Pisgah hosted the annual Johnson-Stamey Mill Town Invitational and wrestlers from both sides of Haywood claimed individual titles on Saturday in Canton.

For Pisgah, freshman 106-pounder Kane Bryson, sophomore 145-pounder Xander Hill, senior 182-pounder Alex Almaraz and senior 220-pounder Noah Sepulveda finished atop their respective weight classes.

For Tuscola, senior state-qualifier Mason Baker claimed the 126-pound title while fellow senior Jadon Mintz, a three-time state-qualifier, finished first at 195 pounds.

The Black Bears finished in second place in the team scoring with 146 points while the Mountaineers finished fifth with 81 points. Trinity High School out of Randolph County claimed first place with 165.

Action began early in the Pisgah gym on Saturday as Black Bear Nation hosted wrestlers and fans from across the region. Haywood wrestlers had a good tournament with plenty of matches in returning to action after winter break.

Teams from 11 high schools were represented at the tournament this year and they all came to wrestle. Trinity, the eventual champion, was a late addition.

“We try to draw good caliber teams for the boys to gain experience and test their skills. Gibbs High School from Knoxville, Tennessee had to cancel because of snow. I looked for another team to fill the gap,” Pisgah Head Coach Ryan Gibson said. “Finally, at the last minute, Trinity High School out of High Point called. They are a good, solid 2A team who had their weekend tournament canceled for the same reason.”

Even on short notice, Trinity came ready to rumble, and some great matches resulted between the home team and them, along with the Mountaineers in pursuit.

The Black Bears fielded an almost complete team, apart from the heavyweight class. The Mountaineers filled eight classes. Other Tuscola wrestlers are on injury reserve.

“The injured wrestlers are expected to be back in action soon and ready for conference competition,” Tuscola Head Coach Kyle Katz said.

Even though the Black Bears took second place overall, the experience will help them down the road as conference competition continues.

Along with four first place finishers, one Bear finished second and two finished third. Freshman 113-pounder Turner Robb earned second while freshman Jonathan Chapman took third at 126 pounds and sophomore Tytus Bridges claimed third at 195 pounds.

For the Mountaineers, three third-place finishers complemented the two champions. Freshman Cooper Williamson took third at 113 pounds, junior Gunnar Hillis claimed third at 138 pounds and senior Ian Enggren finished third in the 285-pound heavyweight division. Enggren showed much improvement coming off a football injury to the ankle.

For bragging rights, the Black Bears hit it big in the most pins/least time category. Alamaraz, Pisgah’s dynamic 182-pounder who is 35-3 on the year, recorded four pins in only 4:20.

Bryson, Pisgah’s 106-pound champ, also took a run for most pins with four falls in 8:36. But most notably, the talented Bryson recorded an incredible three falls in a mere 49 seconds. Two of those three took only 13 seconds each.

For the Mountaineers, Mintz, the 195-pound champ, collected four pins in 9:43. Williamson, a freshman who finished third at 113-pounds, recorded a super quick pin of twelve seconds to set a tournament record.

The Mill Town, a round robin tournament, is one in which each wrestler wrestles the others in their weight class. Then, a championship round is commenced to decide the final places. Tuscola’s annual Neo Invitational, like the Mill Town Invitational, is also a round robin tournament. Scoring is standard tournament scoring and weights are seeded by standard seeding in 12-man brackets.

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