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WENDELL — A long weekend of wrestling at the Corinth Holders-hosted Jolly Roger Invitational was well worth it for C.B. Aycock and Fike by Saturday night.
Out of 25 schools to participate in the proceedings, the two Wilson Times readership area teams finished near the top after some of the biggest performances of the night.
Appearances by four Golden Demons in the title bout — and a pair of winning finishes by Kam McCullen at 145 pounds and Aaron Bancroft II at 170 — led the Golden Demons to a second-place finish in the team scores behind only Raleigh Cardinal Gibbons.
“This weekend was long, tiring,” Bancroft said. “Ready to go home, but it was good. It was good team-wise as well. We had four people in the finals and two champions as of right now, so it was a very successful weekend.”
The Golden Falcons finished not much further behind Fike in fourth, just six points behind the home-team Pirates, due in part by dominant performances by Tyler Hughes (152) and Christian Decatur (113) in the championship bouts of their respective weight classes.
Rounding out the top 10, Central Davidson finished in fifth, Raleigh Athens Drive tied Southern Durham for sixth, while D.H. Conley finished eighth, South Central finished ninth and Hampstead Topsail took 10th.
By entering into what was a competitive tournament, Decatur, Hughes and Bancroft all put their undefeated records on the line.
But the weekend saw no change to the loss column for any of the three as they ransacked through their own respective weight classes without much trouble and a medal around their neck.
Of all the boys championship bouts, Bancroft was one of only three to win his first-place match by pin.
Bancroft’s quick work of Greenville D.H. Conley’s Troy Weaver came after what was a slow start for the Fike senior wrestler. On the opening lunge of the match, Bancroft’s head met Weaver’s knee, producing a nasty stinger than ran from Bancroft’s neck down to his arm.
The Fike wrestler said afterward that, for a brief time, all he could see was white.
After a couple of minutes of injury stoppage time, though, Bancroft resumed play and dominated Weaver, pinning him by fall 1:33 seconds in.
“I was happy. It’s my fourth year being here and my third time winning,” said Bancroft, who won the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3-A championship at 160 pounds last season. “Even though I didn’t win it four times, three times is a very good accomplishment. At that moment in time when I had my hand raised, it just felt like it was needed, like I deserved it, basically. Working hard and everything.”
After the tournament, Bancroft now sits at a perfect 33-0.
Earlier in the evening, Hughes and Decatur came to the same result of victory by a pair of major decisions which boosted their records to 38-0 and 39-0, respectively.
Decatur, taking the mat at center court in the second finals bout of the evening, dispatched Ethan Lenyszyn of D.H. Conley by 13-0 decision. Decatur said he found such success by searching for whatever weakness he could find in his opponent.
“You’ve got to wait for your opponent to make any little mistake and you’ve got to feed off of it,” Decatur said twirling his first-place medal. “Whether it’s a miss high, a duck, loose arm, anything that can get the points.”
For the weekend, Decatur gave up just two points, which came in the semifinals; Decatur said the only reason for that was he let his opponent up so he could score more points by takedown.
“I think my wrestling was pretty solid,” he said.
Later on in the night, Hughes jumped out to a huge lead in his bout, but gave up a number of points late when he got tired. Even still, he won by 21-9 major decision.
“I got a little sloppy toward the end, a little fatigued, but it wasn’t technically too bad,” Hughes said. “I just got a little too sloppy.”
Hughes, who had one of the most technically sound performances of the night, was searching for a first-round pin, which he ended up not needing. For the weekend, he finished with two pins and a pair of major decisions.
“It went good,” Hughes assessed of his weekend. “A couple matches, it was a little tough. I let more points than I usually want to, but overall, it’s what I expected it would be, to come in and get first without too much trouble.”
DEMONS IN THE FINALS
Even the pin by Bancroft aside, the Jolly Roger proved to be a productive experience for Fike.
In the 106-pound title match, Jahmez Settles began what was a long night for the Golden Demons vying for the top.
Though Settles eventually finished second by 6-3 decision behind Cardinal Gibbons’ Luke Kunath, the Demons appeared in more first-place matches than any other school.
Later in the night, in the 182-pound match, Zametrie Bagley fought admirably against Corinth Holders’ Preston Collie, but lost 5-2 to finish as runner-up.
The first to capture a spot at the top of the podium was McCullen in the 145-pound championship match.
McCullen found an equally competent competitor in Raleigh Wakefield’s Terry Edwards, with the two entering overtime tied at 1. That’s when McCullen made the turn and finished out the victory by 3-1 decision.
“I knew going in that the guy was my level or better, so I just went in with the mentality of doing what I’ve got to do and making sure he doesn’t do what he wants to do,” McCullen said.
To pull out the victory against a tough opponent made the fruits of his labor all the more sweet.
“I’m happy about it. I’m proud of myself,” McCullen said. “My coaches are proud of me.”