Cleveland's Derrick Applewhite rolls Eastern Wayne's Brice Heller over his back during the Rams' 59-14 win.
CLAYTON -- Cleveland is having its first senior nights and senior days in every sport this season, and on Tuesday the Rams found a perfect way to celebrate it on the wrestling mat.
They clinched a share of their second straight Eastern Carolina 3A championship.
Chance Wallace and Jacob Pickering scored first-minute pins as the Rams registered seven pins overall, rolling to a 59-14 victory over visiting Eastern Wayne.
The Rams improved to 21-7 on the season, 4-0 in ECC action, while Eastern Wayne fell to 11-7 and 2-3.
Cleveland, which opened two seasons ago with only freshmen and sophomores and then added a junior class last season, is 54-29 all-time in dual meets.
“Senior night was exciting,” Ram coach Scott Riley said. “The seniors we have are a big part of the foundation and have been leaders for three years. They really helped us get our program where it is in a short time.”
The Rams were without senior 195-pounder Holden Bohannon, who is ranked second in the state in his class. Riley said Bohannon is scheduled to have a knee operation within the next few days and his season is likely over.
Tuesday’s match started at 152 pounds. After the teams split a pair of decisions, at 170 Wallace stopped Jordan Lane in 42 seconds and the Rams never trailed again.
“The kid I wrestled was all right,” said the junior Wallace, who improved to 25-5. “I got a win for our seniors out there, and that was the main thing, so they could go out with a bang.”
At 220, Pickering pinned Andre Smith in 1:15. The Rams’ Jonathan Williams stopped Rashawn Pridgen in 2:21 at 182, Adam Collins pinned Cameron Martin in 3:07 at 113, Derrick Applewhite stopped Brice Heller in 3:22 at 120, Bryer Rogers pinned Bryan Wooten in 3:47 at 285, and Josiah Evans pinned Kevon Tune in 4:41 at 132.
“I tried to lift the kid,” said Pickering, who is 16-4 on the season, of his opponent. “He’s pretty strong and fought it off and got me into a pinning combination. I was in trouble, but I got out of it and it fired me up a little bit. I did what I did best and squeezed him.”
Cleveland senior Dakota Hill celebrated the night with his 100th career victory (against 33 losses) by drubbing Victor Rodriguez 18-3 at 138. The Rams’ Josh Williams blanked Damian Adkins 5-0 at 152, while Javonte Moon topped Craig Smith 8-3 at 145. Cleveland’s 106-pounder Ryan Flores won by forfeit.
The Warriors did have some high points, as Ramarjo Torres pinned Brian Collins in 55 seconds at 126, Roger Williams rolled Shane Pilkington 16-0 at 160, and Jamel Barrett topped Blaine Bryant 10-5 at 195.
“Cleveland came prepared to wrestle and it was a tough night for us,” Eastern coach Bruce Gates said. “I’ve got a fairly young team – they had six seniors and we had one. They’re obviously the best team in the conference.”