Home Local Sports Raiders wrestle to a second-place finish in season opener

Raiders wrestle to a second-place finish in season opener

Michael Demay takes down Anson's Landon Downer during one of his four wins in Saturday's Raider Rumble.
Kyle Pillar — Sports Editor.

ROCKINGHAM — After spending the last month conditioning and preparing for the 2019-2020 high school wrestling season, the Richmond Raiders took second place in their first meet of the winter.

Richmond and head coach Earl Nicholson hosted the Raider Rumble Saturday, welcoming in a mixture of Sandhills Athletic Conference and non-conference opponents. Starting the day with four straight wins, the Raiders fell to Lumberton High School in the championship match.

The Raiders opened the day with sizable wins over Fairmont, Anson, Scotland and West Brunswick high schools. It was also a special day for senior 120-pounder Joey Nicholson, who earned his 119th career victory in his first bout of the day, setting the program’s all-time wins record.

Nicholson would be the only Raider to post a 5-0 record, but junior teammate Hector Castro (132-pounds) posted a 4-0 record and didn’t wrestle against West Brunswick. Senior Austin Gallops (160-pounds) and junior Michael Demay each finished his respective day with a 4-1 mark.

“We wrestled great today,” Earl Nicholson said. “I knew the match against Lumberton was going to be tough, especially since football is still in session. We have four guys who should be wrestling for us, but rule changes won’t let them wrestle. And I want them to change that.

“That hurts us in matches like Lumberton,” he continued. “Dante Baldwin wrestled really good today and he’s made leaps and bounds from last year. Michael had some strong points but there are still some things to work on. Andres Sanchez is going to be a small 113-pounder this year, but he’s in every match.”

Nicholson added that Gallops and junior Bryant Coll both put forth strong efforts, which is something he expects from the veteran wrestlers. Another task the Raiders faced was seeing several wrestlers compete in a weight class above their normal range due to not having a full roster.

To open the day against Fairmont, Richmond collected 11 pins en route to a 78-6 victory. Pinning their respective opponents were Christian Sanchez (106-pounds), Nicholson (120-pounds), Baldwin (126-pounds), Coll (138-pounds), Demay (145-pounds) Ethan Owens (152-pounds), Gallops (160-pounds), Nathaniel Parker (170-pounds), Dylan Locklear (195-pounds), Tyson Holloway (220-pounds) and Noah Gomez (285-pounds).

Against the Anson Bearcats, the Raiders would use four pins, a technical fall and five forfeits to earn a 59-24 victory. Nicholson racked up the points quickly against Jackson Forbes to win by tech fall 16-0 in the first round. 

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Baldwin pinned Shawn Hersey, and was followed by pins from Castro against Zack Wall, Demay over Landon Downer in the second round, and Gallops in just 41 seconds against Decorian Gainey.

SAC opponent Scotland put up a tougher contest, seeing the Raiders win only by 10 points, 46-36. Demay, Gallops, Locklear, Nicholson and Castro all won by pinfall, collecting 30 points for the Raiders. Andres Sanchez’s 11-3 major decision over Marcel Martin added four points to the Raiders’ total.

Gomez and freshman Carl Hailey won by forfeit to give Richmond its final 12 points. Andres Sanchez, Nicholson and Castro won in straight matches to earn the team’s third win of the afternoon.

West Brunswick proved to be another significant win for the Raiders, seeing the green and gold defeat the Trojans 53-27. Demay, Gallops, Holloway and Nicholson would pin John Boraski, Michael Smith, Wyatt Moster and Bryson Taylor, respectively, for a combined 24 points.

Earning a win by forfeit were Cameron Russell (182-pounds), Locklear, Gomez, Christian Sanchez and junior Joshua Wallace (138-pounds).

Richmond’s lone loss came to the Lumberton Pirates, one of the stronger programs in the SAC. The Pirates would edge Richmond 52-21. Locklear, Nicholson and Castro would be the only non-forfeit winners for the Raiders.

“There’s a competitive history between us and them,” Earl Nicholson said of the Lumberton match.

The Raiders will hit the mat for the second time this season on Saturday at Asheboro High School. Matches are set to begin at 9 a.m.

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Kyle Pillar is a nine-time North Carolina Press Association award-winning sports editor with The Richmond Observer. Follow the sports department on Twitter @ROSports_ for the best in-depth coverage of Richmond County sports.