Red Devils honor wrestling legacy, coach; defeat rival Maiden 63-16

Newton-Conover head wrestling coach Eddy Clark (right) poses for a photo with his son Cole after being honored for his 750th career coaching victory before Friday's conference match against rival Maiden. (Photo by Cody Dalton/ CSD Photography)A gathering of more than 40 former Newton-Conover wrestlers took place during "Alumni Night" before Friday's conference wrestling match between the Red Devils and rival Maiden. (Photo by Cody Dalton/ CSD Photography)In a match at 182 pounds, Newton-Conover's Cole Clark pins Maiden's Jesse Hewitt for his 36th victory on the mat this season. (Photo by Cody Dalton/ CSD Photography)Newton-Conover's Joshua Nichols pins Maiden's Aaron Yang during the opening match at 170 pounds on Friday at Lemon Gymnasium.(Photo by Cody Dalton/ CSD Photography)
Cody Dalton
Special to the O-N-E

On a night when the Newton-Conover wrestling team honored its past and long-time head coach, the Red Devils dispatched rival Maiden 63-16 to earn their second South Fork 2A win of the season on Friday at Lemon Gymnasium.

Before the match, Newton-Conover honored more than 40 of its former wrestlers during “Alumni Night” — highlighting the accomplishments of each individual who spent time with the program.

“I am so humble sit there and read all of those accolades from those guys,” said Newton-Conover wrestling coach Eddy Clark. “I’m just so proud of our program. It’s a blessing.”

Unbeknownst to Clark, athletic director John Echerd had a surprise for the veteran head coach who has spent more than 20 years leading the program.

Echerd presented Clark with a plaque honoring his 750th career win, which took place during the Caitlyn Price Memorial Duals at Alexander Central High School on Dec. 6, 2019.

Clark’s son Cole, who is a junior wrestler for the Red Devils, spoke after the presentation, highlighting some of his father’s achievements, including a 761-117 career coaching record (86.7 win percentage), 12 state dual Final Fours, eight state dual finals, 4 state dual titles and coaching 10 individual state champions.

Eddy is proud that Cole and his youngest son Owen — a freshman — have been able to be a part of his tenured coaching legacy and wrestling program at Newton-Conover High School.

“It’s really been a lot of fun for me to coach those two,” he said. “You don’t know that coming in. You don’t know how the dad-coach dynamic is going to play out for you, but they’ve both just been awesome to coach. They are like sponges. They just learn and soak it up. They are coachable kids. I am proud of my boys. I am as proud of them as I am that 40-plus guys standing there.”

All of Newton-Conover’s current wrestlers continued the theme of the night — wearing different throwback singlets during Friday’s match honoring each of the generations of wrestlers involved in the program.

When the match got underway, the Red Devils (24-12, 2-1) won first 39 points of the against the Blue Devils, reeling off three-straight pins at the start by 170-pound senior Joshua Nichols (34-2), 182-pound freshman Cole Clark (36-6) and 195-pound sophomore Sakarri Morrison (39-0).

Maiden (4-9, 1-2) broke the shutout by earning its only three wins in a row — a forfeit by junior Landon Bradley (11-16) at 120 pounds, a pin by junior Nathaniel Poovey (18-10) at 126 pounds and a major decision by sophomore Zachary Beard (13-4) at 132 pounds.

NCHS rebounded, following up those results with three more pins — this time by 138-pounder Jason Brawley (22-15), 145-pounder Ethan Clark (26-19) and 152-pounder Charlie Pettery (27-15) and a forfeit at 150 pounds by Michael Forney (10-15) to close out the conference victory.

Coach Clark said it’s been a challenge this season coaching such a young group of wrestlers, which include seven freshmen and three sophomores in 14 weight classes, but he’s proud of how they bonded together during Friday night’s win.

“They did great tonight,” coach Clark said. “I think our freshmen are growing up. They are getting a little bit more confidence as they go. Tonight was special in a lot of ways. They wrestled great. I was worried about that with some distractions with the alumni and the different singlets and all that, but they showed up and wrestled great.

“It a was fun night,” he added. “Nights like these are the ones you are in it for. We had all of the guys that I coached with here, and coach (Don) Patrick, who hired me, was here tonight. It was just a special, a very special night.”

Newton-Conover 63, Maiden 13

170: Joshua Nichols (NC) p. Aaron Yang (M) 1:43
182: Cole Clark (NC) p. Jesse Hewitt (M) 2:13
195 Sakarri Morrison (NC) p. Aaron Lefevers (M) 3:36
220: Owen Clark (NC) p. D.J. Spring (M) 2:15
285: Ryan Walker (NC) won by forfeit
106: Nathan Vang (NC) d. Miranda Valerio (M) 12-7
113: Camden Spencer (NC) p. Jose Silbapompa (M) 0:16
120: Landon Bradley (M) won by forfeit
126: Nathaniel Poovey (M) p. Balentin Solorzano (NC) 0:49
132: Zachary Beard (M) m.d. Jordan Henze (NC) 12-4
138: Jason Brawley (NC) p. Tyrus Cobb (M) 5:19
145: Ethan Clark (NC) vs. Zachary Wise (M) 3:22
152: Charlie Pettery (NC) p. Jordan Wise (M) :29
160: Michael Forney (NC) won by forfeit

Records: Newton-Conover 24-12, 2-1; Maiden 4-9, 1-2