WENDELL — Before every dual meet this season when Corinth Holders wrestling coach Eric Wischhusen decides which of his wrestlers to pit against the opponents’ grapplers, Wischhusen places a star besides the contests that he believes to be key for winning for the match.
For much of this season, those starred matches have ultimately gone the Pirates’ way and fortunately for Corinth Holders on a night in which it played host to the opening two rounds of the 2A state playoffs, the trend continued.
The Pirates advanced to the third round of the state 2A dual meet playoffs after defeating Swansboro 39-23 in the opening round and then Durham School of the Arts 51-21in the second round.
“It was amazing,” Wischhusen said of the night that saw the Pirates advance the furthest in the playoffs in school history. “I could not have asked for anything better.
“I’m so proud of my boys and so proud of the way they wrestled.”
In the Pirates’ opening round encounter against Swansboro, a pair of lower weight class matches that were starred not only went the way of the purple and gold but also provided Corinth Holders with some momentum in the middle of a close contest.
At 106 pounds, Darius Dunn held off Swansboro’s Bryon Mol, ranked second in the state in his weight class, and dealt Mol just his third defeat all year with a key 6-4 decision.
“I was just trying to do some smart wrestling and hit my moves that I’ve practiced every day and that’s basically it,” Dunn said of his gritty performance in the win over Mol. “I did what I had to do for the team.”
Dustin Brennan then recorded a 3-1 decision over Tyler Henson in overtime (also ranked in top 10 in the state) to help the Pirates pull away en route to the 39-23 triumph.
“He went out there tonight and showed the number two-ranked wrestler in the state how good he is,” Wischhusen said of Dunn. “He set the tone for us and it totally flipped for us.
There was a time there when I thought we could have lost the match. It just totally flipped around and we hit the gas and took off.”
Corinth Holders received pins from Tyler Johnson at 138, William Floyd at 182 and Chris Solano at 285 in the opener.
In the nightcap against Durham School of the Arts, the Pirates found a little less resistance.
Johnson and Solano earned pinfalls yet again while Matt Duncan (152) and Jason Gonzalez (170) also put their opponents to the mat for a pair of first period pins.
Dillon Brennan, Dustin Brennan, Dunn and Floyd each won their match against the Bulldogs while Charlie Gray and Jason Hadding won by forfeit.
The Pirates will take on Croatan in the third round and Wischhusen knows his team will have to win the pivotal matchups yet again in order to advance.
“We’re just going to need the boys to step up like they did tonight,” Wischhusen said referring to his wrestlers coming out on top in the swing matches. “If we want to keep winning, we’ve got to keep winning those key matchups.”