Orange High's wrestling team won the Crosby Tournament

The Orange High School wrestling team won the Crosby Tournament.

Orange High School’s wrestling program took a big step towards another conference championship this past week with a huge win in dual team competition, while also earning an impressive first place showing as a team at an individual tournament over the weekend iN Greensboro. 

Orange was initially scheduled to face off against Northwood in a Central Conference dual team match the evening of Tuesday, January 4, but the cancellation of schools that day by Orange County Schools due to winter weather forced the postponement of the showdown between the Panthers and Chargers by one day. Once the two squads faced off, Orange outlasted the Chargers for a hard-fought 43-24 victory, pushing the Panthers one step closer to the Central Conference regular season championship.  

It was a solid night for the Panthers, as OHS wrestlers earned a total of eight victories, with one double forfeit in the 106-pound match. Kale Womble got things going for Orange with a third round pin of Sunday Oo (4:29) in the 113-pound match. Braden Crawford followed up Womble in the 120-pound match by pinning Northwood’s Coltrane Northington late in the second round (3:51). Dillon Heffernan got the Panthers another victory in the 126-pound match, defeated Northwood’s Aiden Vigus midway through the second round (2:58). Jared Hutchins got OHS a fourth straight triumph in the 132-pound match, as he pinned Northwood’s Asher Rockriver in the first round (1:34). 

Northwood regrouped in the middle weight classes, winning five straight individual showdowns against Orange grapplers to give the Chargers a shot at victory. Talan Pearley, wrestling at 138 pounds for the Panthers, fell to Northwood’s Andrew Kimbrel via a third round pin (4:32), while Avery Clark was beaten by Northwood’s 145-pound wrestler, Ron Walker, via an 11-6 decision. Luke Nevius challenged Northwood’s Ian Morrison in the 152-pound match, but Morrison came out the victor, earning a late second round pin (3:56). Andre Hill was also knocked off in the 160-pound match by Northwood’s Ethan Kuball via a mid-second round pin (3:00). In the 170-pound match, Nathan Hecht engaged in a technical battle with Cliff Davis, coming up on the wrong end of a frustrating 1-0 decision. 

Fortunately for the Panthers, they got things back on track in the upper weight classes and regained control of the match. It started with 182-pounder Brendon Worsham, who earned an impressive 10-1 major decision triumph over Northwood’s Ryan Brinker. Acoya Isley followed up Worsham in the 195-pound match with a quick pin of Isaac Laccone in the opening minute of the first round (0:54). Elijah Acosta came next for the Panthers, earning a 7-3 decision over Northwood’s Jake Dunning in the 220-pound match. Hugo Vazquez completed Orange’s impressive come-from-behind victory with a rapid pin of Northwood’s Matthew Goldston in the first round (0:29) of the 285-pound match. 

Following its dual team win over Northwood, Orange made its way to the Quentin Crosby Invitational Tournament over the weekend on the campus of Dudley High School in Greensboro, where they competed in an event with 17 other local schools. It was a huge day for the Panthers, as no less than eight OHS wrestlers placed in the top three of their respective weight classes, and Orange came in first place overall in team scoring. In addition, a total of four Panthers - Dillon Heffernan, Acoya Isley, Elijah Acosta, and Brendon Worsham - won their respective weight classes. 

Heffernan prevailed in the 126-pound weight class with a solid series of victories, including a a technical fall 16-0 victory over Hamzah Mahmoud of R.J Reynolds, a dominant third round pin of Eastern Alamance’s Mason Tanner (4:43), and a 6-5 decision victory over Allen Cohen of Morehead in the first place match. Heffernan, who has a 22-6 overall record, also earned a second place finish in the recent Chapel Hill Tiger Holiday Classic.  

Worsham prevailed in the 182-pound weight class by pinning Edwin Cantu of Morehead in the opening minute of his semifinal match (0:52), and then overwhelming Chris Cartrette of Lexington by a 9-1 major decision victory in the championship match. Worsham is off to a 23-5 start this season. 

Isley had a very successful run over the weekend in Greensboro in the 195-pound weight class, earning a trio of first round pins. His first two matches lasted less than 40 seconds, as Isley pinned Thomas Tippeconnie of R.J. Reynolds in just 21 seconds, and Collin Morehead of host Dudley High in only 33 seconds. Isley finished off the weekend by dropping Christian Brown of Greensboro Page in the first round (1:09) of the championship match. Like Heffernan, Isley placed second at the Tiger Holiday Classic in late December, and won the Jim King Invitational at home in the OHS gymnasium prior to the Holiday break. Isley is off to an 18-5 start this season for the Panthers. 

Acosta, who was also a winner at the Jim King Invitational in Hillsborough in December, earned the title in the 220-pound weight class. After pinning Southwest Guilford’s Braylon Clark late in the third round (5:30) of his opening round match, Acosta advanced to pin Eastern Alamance’s Noel Jennings in the first round (1:11) of the quarterfinals. In the semis, Acosta dispatched of Carter Bland of Southern Guilford midway through the second round (2:50) to advance to the finals. In the championship match, Acosta went the distance with Dudley’s Jaquaid Owens, earning a hard-fought 5-2 victory. Acosta bumped his record to an impressive 24-2 with his victorious run in Greensboro. 

Four more Eagles placed third at the Crosby Invitational, including Kale Womble (113 pounds), Braden Crawford (120 pounds), Jared Hutchins (132 pounds) and Talan Pearley (138 pounds). 

Womble earned third place by pinning Andres Couto of Lexington in the third round (4:25). Womble improved his season record to 13-8. Crawford took third place honors in his weight class with a dominant 12-2 major decision triumph over Jason Allen of Lexington. Crawford also pinned Omari Williams of Greensboro Page (2:50) and Tucker Rakes of Morehead (4:12) on his way to his third place finish, improving his overall record to 26-11.  

Although he was eliminated from the championship bracket by Ivan Benitez of Eastern Alamance, Hutchins regrouped to pin Amarr Lumpkins of R.J. Reynolds in the second round (2:52), and then knocked off Donovan Edwards of Southwest Guilford by a 10-4 decision in the third place match. Hutchins also earned a first round pin of Dudley’s Shawn Bass (1:56) as his record improved to 21-6. Pearley claimed third place by pinning Michael Mays of Lexington in the opening minute (0:54) of the third place match. Pearley also pinned Jahzion Patterson of Eastern Alamance in the first round (1:18), moving his record to 3-2 on the season. 

Orange concludes the regular season the evening of Wednesday, January 19 with a home dual team match in Hillsborough against Eastern Alamance. A win over the Eagles secures OHS the Central Conference title and even more momentum as the Panthers look ahead to the postseason. The Central Conference Tournament is scheduled for January 22, to be followed by the Mideast Regional and State individual tournaments, as well as the NCHSAA 3A dual team tournament.