Andrew Coleborn ends a dominant night of Braves’ wrestling. Photo by Joshua Reed
The Braves held their first home wrestling contest, not only of the new year, but the first time since the 37th Annual Pembroke Classic in early November on Jan. 11.
The Black and Gold also secured their first pair of consecutive victories this season in commanding fashion against the Pioneers of Spartanburg Methodist College 42-9, and the Queens University Royals 34-9 The Pioneers made it tough on the Braves early on.
UNC-Pembroke’s Eric Joyner was pinned in the second period of the 149-pound matchup, and the visitors led 10-9.
However, the home team went on to win the final six matchups, which included a forfeit at 167-pounds and pins by Eric Milks (157 pounds), Joey Dimartino (174 pounds), Faris Teia (184 pounds) and Bryce Walker (197 pounds).
After three matches, the home team had established a commanding 10-0 lead over the Royals, and following Joyner getting pinned in the first round, the Braves won five of their final six bouts, including a forfeit at the 197-pound weight class.
Despite his team’s significant margin of victory in both contests, head coach Othello “O.T.” Johnson believed that there were a few opportunities that his wrestlers missed because of lapses in focus, discipline and poise.
“In this sport if you lose your poise, just like in most mixed martial arts sports which wrestling is, your day can be over,” Johnson said. “In a couple of matches, in both duals, we kind of lost our composure and our poise for a little bit and our opponents took advantage of it. Outside of that I feel good about the way we bounced back from Sunday and really got back on the right track.”
Johnson was particularly impressed with the performance of first-year true freshman Luke McDonough. The 141-pounder faced off against a very formidable opponent from Spartanburg Methodist College.
He battled all three periods and came out with a 6-5 decision victory.
“He’s a guy that we’re looking for as the season progresses along, now that he is down in weight and he’s starting to do things right,” Johnson said. “There’s definitely some teachable moments in there. Even though he didn’t get pins, he definitely did some good things, so we’re excited for that.”
The coach was equally impressed with the tenacity and grit that redshirt sophomore heavyweight Andrew Colborn exhibited in his two winning bouts on the night.
“If you’ve seen a lot of heavyweight matches you know they’re like watching paint dry, and I love Andrew to death. He’s one of the most tough kids you’ll ever meet, putting himself out there for the team and he constantly goes out there and pushes the pace and forces his opponents to wrestle tough. It was paint drying but it was good paint drying,” Johnson said.