Sunday, 19 January 2020 16:44

Nicholson battles to 1st-place finish in Bulldog Brawl, Raiders take 6th overall

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Joey Nicholson (left) stands next to Brandon Jacoby after winning the 120-pound division. Joey Nicholson (left) stands next to Brandon Jacoby after winning the 120-pound division. Contributed photo.

ST. PAULS — Competing in the annual Bulldog Brawl at St. Pauls High School, the Richmond Senior High School wrestling team continued to get more experience on the mat as the team winds down the final third of its schedule.

With 17 teams competing in the tournament, the Raiders and head coach Earl Nicholson finished the day sixth overall with 91.5 points. Union Pines High School won with 180 points, and the Raiders missed out on a top-five finish by trailing Overhills High School by just one point.

Rounding out the top five were Carolina Forest High School (141.5, second), Cary High School (138.5, third) and Dixon High School (95, fourth).

The big story for the Raiders, however, was senior captain Joey Nicholson’s first-place finish in the 120-pound weight class. Having dealt with a couple of injuries this season, including most recently dislocated fingers, Nicholson added to his program-leading wins total by adding three more.

Going a perfect 3-0, Nicholson tallied a team-high 21 points, earning a pin, a major decision and a decision in the finals. 

Joey Nicholson started his day in the quarterfinals round with a pinfall victory in 2:42 over Hoke County High School’s David Coptsias. 

The semifinal bout with host St. Puals’ Damien Ortiz resulted in a 9-0 major decision, and Nicholson capped his day with a 7-1 decision over Carolina Forest’s Brandon Jacoby after three hard-fought rounds. Against Jacoby, the one point Nicholson gave up was the only point he allowed all day.

“The Raiders started out really strong staying in the top three during the first three rounds of competition,” Coach Nicholson said. “But as the matches got tougher, some of our youth and inexperience showed.  

“Overall we had a really good day as every wrestler scored at least three points for the team,” he added. “And most scored over seven points.”

Contributing to the Raiders’ efforts on Saturday was fellow senior captain Austin Gallops, who took third overall in the 160-pound division. Also fresh off a shoulder injury, Gallops earned 17 points with a 3-1 record.

In the first round, Gallops received a bye, and followed that by beating Joshua McLaurin (Lumberton High School) in the quarterfinals behind a 7-1 decision. Gallops would lose in the championship semis to Terry Sanford High School’s Zachary Pranka, a pin in 1:34.

Moving to the consolation bracket, Gallops finished the day with back-to-back wins. He pinned Dixon’s Adrian DeSousa in just 40 seconds, and earned third overall with an 11-4 decision over Cary’s Jake Wolfram.

Junior Bryant Coll added 10 points to the Raiders’ tally in the 132-pound bracket, while freshman heavyweight Sebastian Fullwood earned 10 more points. 

Rounding out Richmond’s top performers in the varsity bracket were Donte Baldwin and Michael DeMay, both of whom collected seven points.

None of those four Raiders placed, but Coach Nicholson noted he was proud of their efforts on the mat to help the team remain in the top six.

In junior varsity action, freshman Lakota Scott earned second place and 20.5 points in the 138-pound contest, while fellow freshmen Deondre Baldwin (126-pound) and Kodie Simmons (106-pound) took fourth place in their respective weight class.

Richmond’s next match will be Wednesday at home, which will be senior night. The Raiders will take on two Sandhills Athletic Conference opponents starting at 6 p.m. as the handful of seniors will wrestle at home one last time.

Kyle Pillar

Three-time award-winning sports editor. Indiana University of Pennsylvania communications media and journalism alumni. English teacher, Ninth Grade Academy.

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