Lake Norman wrestlers finish second in I-MECK 4A
by Staff Writer
by Cliff Mehrtens
MOORESVILLE – Lake Norman High’s wrestling team fell short of the I-MECK 4A dual-team championship, salvaging the runner-up spot.
The Wildcats won second place in the conference dual-team competition with a 41-18 victory against rival Mooresville on Feb. 6. Lake Norman (29-4 overall, 6-1 in conference) will be the conference’s second seed in the N.C. 4A dual-team playoffs, which begin Feb. 12.
Playoff brackets haven’t been finalized.
Lake Norman won nine of the 14 individual matches in the victory against its cross-town rival. Ryan Devlin (170 pound-division), Luke Parsons (182) and Jackson Dowless (220) each won by pinning their opponent. Cody Karns (120) improved to 43-0 with a 19-4 technical fall victory against Dalton Eager.
Connor Kominek (113), Kyle Greenwald (132), Justin Wilson (145) and Matt Adair (160) won by decision. Brendon Latham (285) won by forfeit.
Mooresville finished 21-15 in dual-team meets, and third in the conference with a 5-2 record. The I-MECK 4A conference gets two automatic playoff berths (champion Hough High and Lake Norman), which means Mooresville must hope for a wildcard spot.
The Blue Devils’ winners against Lake Norman were Tucker Key (a decision in the 106-pound division), Jamie Wright (pin at 126), Kane Price (decision at 138), Jarred Brooks (decision at 152) and Dontrez Patterson (decision at 182).
For Lake Norman, there’s plenty of wrestling left and it’ll be crammed into a small time frame. The first two rounds of the dual-team playoffs will be Feb. 12, the next two on Feb. 14 and the state championship on Feb. 16.
The Wildcats are strong in the lower and upper weight classes. Karns, who was a state runner-up last season, is ranked No. 1 statewide in his weight class. Several teammates have compiled impressive records heading into the postseason, including Devlin (41-5), Dowless (41-8), Latham (44-5), Kominek (37-4) and Eddie McGrail, who is 30-7 at 145 pounds.
“Our goal is to get to Thursday (Feb. 14) in the dual-teams,” Lake Norman coach Morgan Fore said. “It will be tough because you have to wrestle a lot of matches in a short period of time.”
Fore said he’s pleased with how the Wildcats have trained and bonded all season. He met with the five captains individually before the season.
“I told them to I want them to lead the team in high-fives,” Fore said. “(Assistant) Coach (Ron) Karns had the team over to his house, they played cards and all slept there. It’s something we’ve tried to build. But it builds itself when you have a bunch of guys who’re all working for the same thing. These guys genuinely have a good bond and enjoy training together.”
Lake Norman’s season peaked with the match against Hough on Jan. 31 to determine the I-MECK 4A conference champion. But the Wildcats lost 36-27 to snap a 20-match winning streak. It was Lake Norman’s first dual-team loss since Dec. 1.
The Wildcats winners against Hough were Devlin, Dowless, Karns (who won by pin in 29 seconds), Michael Ready (132 pounds) and McGrail.
Lake Norman and Mooresville will set aside team competition to wrestle in the I-MECK 4A conference tournament Feb. 9 at Mooresville. A conference champion will be determined in 14 weight classes.
Then, won-loss records for the season will determine which wrestlers qualify for the individual N.C. 4A Western regional tournament Feb. 22-23 at Hough. The state tournament is Feb. 28-March 2 in Greensboro.
• Recent career milestones in area wrestling include victory No. 300 for Mooresville coach Ben Watson, No. 200 for Lake Norman’s Karns (in the win against Mooresville) and No. 100 for Lake Norman’s R.J. Cloninger ,who competes in the 126-pound division.