ON TO THE NEXT: Foard wrestling defeats Mt. Pleasant and defending 2A State champ West Lincoln in first two rounds of Dual Team state playoffs

(Photo by Fred T. Foard wrestling)
Marcus Smith
Sports Editor

The Fred T. Foard wrestling team came, saw and conquered its 2A West foes Mount Pleasant and West Lincoln at West Lincoln High School on Tuesday, February 4.

It was a first-round match-up between a pair of Tigers as Mount Pleasant were defeated by Foard in the 2A West Dual Team playoffs, 58-24. Foard eliminated Mount Pleasant for the third-straight time in the playoffs, as well as beaten them for a second time this season.

Foard's Jacob Belton scored the first victory via pinfall over the Tigers' Jordan Dunlap in the 182-pound class. Because of this, junior Landon Foor was bumped up in this first-round contest to the 195-pound class to battle Mount Pleasant's Levi Klutz – who entered the match at 41-2 on the year.

Foor – 50-0 at the time – would score the team's second pin to lead, 12-0. It would be the first but not the last time on Tuesday that he bumped up to a different weight class.

Mount Pleasant's Chase Crayton would be the first wrestler to put his team on the board with a pinfall victory over Dylan Smith in the 220-pound class. Ben Wright followed up with a pin of his own over Foard's Andrew Jackson in the 285-pound bout to tie it up at 12-all.

Foard bounced back mightily – racking up the points – securing pinfall victories by William Auton (106-pound) and freshman Brock Carey (113-pound), then collected a pair of forfeits at 120 and 126 to lead Mount Pleasant, 36-12, at the time. In the 138-pound match, Foard senior Braden Wharton dominated Shane Reigel with a 9-0 major decision, and the Tigers collected forfeit wins the rest of the way.

Following the Rebels' victory over Central Davidson in its first-round bout, then came the encounter everyone had been waiting for: West Lincoln against Foard.

The Rebels – the defending 2A State Champs – had bested the Tigers in back-to-back Dual Team state playoff matches including the 2A West Regional in 2018. Nevertheless, both teams were very game in this second-round contest with Foard finally coming away with the narrow win, 36-33, to snap the head-to-head losing streak.

“It was a good of a performance as this program has ever had in my 11 years when we wrestled West Lincoln,” said Foard head wrestling coach Mike Carey. “Our kids wrestled great, we were tough, and we didn't quit trying to score points.”

Belton moved up to 195 in the first bout and sneaked away with a 3-2 decision victory to give Foard the early lead. Then came the decision to move Foor up a couple of more weight classes – normally wrestling at the 182-pound class – and he would pick up another pinfall victory to put his team ahead, 9-0.

Due to Foor competing at 220, West Lincoln's Harley Scronce (21-2) was saved for Mo McAfee and earned the 2-1 decision, trailing Foard 9-3, at the time. Carey (32-2) would move down to the 106-pound class and obtain a pinfall win over Rebels' Ti Phansook to lead, 15-3.

It would be a back-and-forth affair the rest of the way, but the biggest moment of the match came from Tigers' senior Dalton Jackson. Still leading over the Rebels, 30-9, Jackson clinched the bout with a pinfall victory over West Lincoln's Mason Avery at 145-pounds.

“Every coach wants their seniors to have success, but when it can come against a tradition rich program like West Lincoln in that standing room only environment, it makes it special,” said Carey about Dalton Jackson. “Dalton has come a long way. We didn't know if he would be our starter this year until after Christmas, so I was really happy for him. He has been competing really well lately and has been an emotional leader.”

Carey also said that he told his team after the win of West Lincoln to just enjoy this journey. He said that it's easy to look ahead, but that the team needs to embrace the moment and not take it for granted.

The journey will indeed continue as Foard (44-0) faces Central Academy (29-4) in Jerry Copas Gymnasium on Thursday at 6 p.m. in the third round. With a win over Central Academy, it would face the winner of Pigsah (15-2) and Surry Central (28-3) in the 2A West Regional final.