PEMBROKE — Purnell Swett High School welcomed Scotland and a Robeson County rival to its gym Wednesday night for a wrestling tri-meet.
And while the Scots lost their opening match against the host Rams, Rangel Moore’s program picked up its first victory of the season in its bout versus St. Pauls.
Purnell Swett swept the tri-meet, defeating the Scots 57-20 and besting the Bulldogs 63-18.
Scotland rebounded from the early loss to down St. Pauls 42-33.
In the Scots’ initial bout against Purnell Swett, four grapplers picked up wins. Jacob Young (132 pounds) escaped with a 7-4 decision, and Dakota McLean (145), Beniot Deandre (152) and Quartio Southerland (160) all notched pinfall victories.
Purnell Swett led 30-20 at point during the match before reeling off four pins and one win by decision to pull away from its Southeastern Conference rival.
Against St. Pauls, Scotland’s middleweights, much like they did against Purnell Swett, shined as the Scots won four straight matches by pinfall. McLean, a sophomore who Moore calls the “star of the team” thus far this season, improved to 9-0 with his second pin of the evening.
“McLean works hard, he pushes, he’s one of those guys where last year was his first year wrestling as a freshman,” Moore said. “He worked his butt of this summer and he’s stepped up. He’s going to be an all-conference wrestler.”
Deandre, Southerland and Justin Prince (170 pounds) all followed with consecutive pins to give Scotland control of the match.
Mitchell Smith notched a pin of his own in the 195-pound battle to cap the evening.
Scotland’s win improved its overall record to 1-8.
The Scots were forced to forfeit three bouts — 106, 126 and 138 pounds — in both contests due to not having starters at those weights. Moore said he expects the lack of depth to be remedied once the second semester of school starts in January. He and the rest of the squad are waiting on almost a half-dozen players to join the team, which is a group that includes all-SEC performer and 4A state qualifier Zitemus Henderson.
Those that are not suited up are on the sidelines due to injury or “off the mat issues,” according to Moore.
For now, though, the Scots will have to rely on the wrestlers that are on the roster before the calvary arrives in time for the stretch run of the season.
“It’s a building process — they’ll get better as time goes,” Moore said. “Once I get everybody back I think we should be one of the top teams in the conference.”
According to Moore, Quazary Pearson at 120 pounds and Southerland are two other wrestlers that have showcased all-conference potential during the early portion of the season. Moore hopes to field “five or six” all-SEC wrestlers by year’s end.
“It’s all about mat time, you get them on the mat and try to get them better and better,” Moore said. “The thing about wrestling is the teams that you face, you can go undefeated and it really doesn’t mean anything because it all boils down to Jan. 30 when you come out on that conference day. If you’re not feeling it that day, you could blow it.”
Logan Martinez can be reached at 910-506-3170. Follow him on Twitter @L_Martinez13.