For the varsity wrestling Fighting Scots this past weekend, it was a repeat of their grueling holiday schedule in many respects as Scotland traveled to Jack Britt High School to take part in the ‘Boneyard Bash’ tournament. According to Scots’ head coach Joel McCanna, the tournament mirrored Dec. 21 and 22’s WRAL tournament (where the team finished 12th overall out of 39 teams) in terms of overall challenge.
Long hours and a gauntlet of tough competition defined the Boneyard Bash, which featured 24 teams from throughout the Carolinas including four from the 4-A Southeastern Conference. While Hoke County, Lumberton and Purnell Swett finished in the bottom half of the competing teams, Scotland further distanced themselves from their fellow conference competitors by finishing fifth overall in the tournament.
But not without the occasional bump in the road.
“This tournament definitely put some things in perspective for me,” said Scotland senior 160-pounder Adrian Soto-Perez, who is currently the top-ranked North Carolina wrestler in his weight class. In the championship round of the Boneyard Bash, Soto-Perez suffered his first loss of the season via the 3-2 decision against a Page High School (Greensboro, N.C.) wrestler who he beat in last year’s 4-A state tournament. The deciding two-point takedown which cost Soto-Perez the match occurred in the final 10 seconds of the third period.
“It shows that I’m not invincible and that people are hungry to beat me because of the target that’s on my back. But with the loss, I go back to being the hunter, and I like it that way. I still feel that I’m the best 160-pound wrestler in the state,” he said.
The loss gave Soto-Perez second-place honors for the two-day tournament which began Jan. 11, and the Scotland senior was joined by five other Fighting Scots who also placed in the crowded field.
Scots’ 170-pound senior Nick Kee continued his march towards a second-consecutive undefeated season after pinning his Douglas Byrd High School (Fayetteville, N.C.) opponent in the second period of the championship round. Kee was up 14-3 and would have likely earned a technical fall had he not pinned his opponent’s shoulders to the mat.
The win secured Kee the 170-pound championship, as well as the ‘Most Outstanding Wrestler’ individual award given to the top wrestler of the tournament.
Scotland junior 132-pounder Afiz Lateef and 106-pound freshman Jo Dinkins each finished fourth-place in their respective weight classes, while the 126-pound Deshawn Williams earned fifth-place honors as well. And the 138-pound Jessi Kee rounded out the field by also securing a sixth-place finish in her weight class.
“This was definitely on par with some of the toughest tournaments we’ve competed in this season,” McCanna said. “With that said, some of our kids are peaking right now and some need to keep working and getting better. But overall, I think we’re where we need to be as a team.”
The Fighting Scots will next travel to to Hoke County this Wednesday Jan. 16 for a conference-match against the Bucks, which is slated to start at 6 p.m.