First Posted: 1/15/2009
WILMINGTON -- Milton Lewis and Mario McDuffie will have plenty of company on their ride to the NCHSAA individual wrestling state championships next weekend.
The Lumberton seniors won championships in their weight classes Satur-day at the 4-A Eastern Regional at New Han-over High School, and three of their teammates placed among the top three in their weight classes.
The top four wrestlers in each re-gional weight class earned berths in the state meet, scheduled for Friday and Satur-day at Joel Coliseum in Winston-Salem.
Lumberton's other qualifiers for the state meet are seniors Cedric Singletary and D.J. Moore and sophomore Marsalis Smith.
As a team, Lumberton finished runner-up to Jack Britt in the 20-team field.
Purnell Swett had one participant in Saturday's action, junior Bryan Howington, and he was ousted after one match.
“It was a great weekend,” said Lumberton coach Jim Caraway, whose team finished fifth in the seven-team Two Rivers Conference -- both in the regular-season standings and at the TRC tournament. “A lot of guys really came through, not just those who advanced but everyone.”
The five state qualifiers are the most Lumberton has had in Caraway's five years as head coach. The Pirates' previous best was four in 2001.
Lewis and McDuffie advanced to the state meet last season after finishing second in their regional weight classes. McDuffie was eliminated at state in the consolation semifinals at 215 pounds, and Lewis was ousted a round earlier at heavyweight.
Lewis (27-1) entered this season's regional seeded No. 1 at heavyweight and lived up to the billing, posting three victories. He notched a 5-4 win over Wilmington Hoggard's Jeremy Franks (31-7) in the final.
McDuffie (26-2), seeded No. 2 at 215 pounds, won his title by pulling out a 5-3 win over top-seeded Robert Sanders (40-2) of Pine Forest in the final. Both of Sanders' losses this season have been to McDuffie.
Smith and Singletary lost in the championship matches of their weight classes, both losing to opponents from Jack Britt in the finals. Smith (26-3), seeded No. 1 at 103, lost 5-3 to No. 2-seeded Jalil Dozier (54-5). Singletary (25-5), seeded No. 3 at 140, lost 14-2 to No. 1-seeded Jacob Smith (52-2).
Moore (17-3), seeded No. 1 at 171, scrapped through the wrestlebacks to earn his berth in the state meet.
Moore had a 5-0 lead when he was pinned by No. 9-seeded James Martinez of E.E. Smith in his first match Saturday. Moore had beaten Martinez via technical fall at the Two Rivers tournament.
Moore faced Martinez again Saturday in the third-place match and won 15-8.
Lumberton had four other wrestlers participate in Satur-day's action: seniors Paul McIntyre, Trinity Blue and Charles Melvin and freshman Michael Dudley.
McIntyre (21-8), seeded No. 6 at 189, went 1-2 on the day -- as did Blue (24-12), seeded No. 7 at 119.
Melvin (19-15) and Dudley (4-9) went 0-2 on the day. Melvin was seeded No. 9 at 112 and Dudley No. 11 at 125.
Howington (24-12), seeded No. 6 at 160, lost his first match Saturday to James Campbell (35-10) of New Hanover. In the 5-0 setback, Howington suffered a possible concussion which forced him to forfeit his next match. He therefore was eliminated from the double-elimination competition.
Campbell ended up placing second at 160.
“I feel really bad for him,” Purnell Swett coach Ken Goben said of Howington, a team co-captain. “But, for his safety, we didn't want to risk him getting hurt worse than he was.”