LUMBERTON — Like the University of Miami football team, the Lumberton wrestling team has some flashy jewelry to celebrate what its players do on the wrestling mat.
Not a turnover chain like the Hurricanes, but rather the Pirates have the pin chain.
Coming into its Sandhills Athletic Conference match against rival Purnell Swett, Lumberton looked to make the chain change hands as much as possible, and it did.
“It’s the same concept as the turnover chain from the U. We thought that since we had a young team, we’ve got some guys that have experience so what was something we could do to get people to go out there and wrestle their best match,” Lumberton coach Jamie Bell said. “It’s just to get everybody going, to get our boys going, get the crowd going. There’s a few guys that want the pin chain. The 195 wants the pin chain.”
The Pirates picked up four pins in the match that was tied at 33-all after all 14 bouts, and came down to a one-point penalty on Purnell Swett that gave Lumberton the 34-33 win at home to open conference play.
The match featured Purnell Swett as the No. 2 team in the East region polls and Lumberton right behind at No. 3 with nine wrestlers ranked inside their weight classes’ top 10 in the state.
“At the end of the day it doesn’t matter what your record is coming into this rivalry, it’s always going to come down to the wire,” Purnell Swett coach Nicky Barnes said. “I hate it came down to a tiebreaker and some penalty points.”
Lumberton’s Ed Brock held onto the pin chain for the longest of anyone on the night. After picking up a pin the in 195-pound bout, the junior had the gold chain with a block-letter “L” around his neck for four matches, until Sincere Johnson took it with his pin over Cayden Scott in the 113-pound match.
While Brock wanted to get the chain, he was eager for a teammate to claim it for his own.
“We had to make our mark. They are No. 2 in the region and we are No. 3 so the coaches wanted us to get as many wins as possible,” Brock said. “I wanted everybody to get a chance to wear the pin chain. It’s no fun if you can’t share it.”
From the beginning, the Pirates built momentum in the first two matches, despite splitting the pair with the Rams.
Armando Marquez topped Jonathan Locklear by a 3-2 decision at 138 pounds, and then Purnell Swett answered with a 14-2 decision for Rommie McNeill over freshman Tony Hammonds. The penalty point added after the match came from McNeill’s match when he removed the top of his singlet out of frustration from the match.
“I saw a lot of heart from a lot of young guys. The first big one was Tony Hammonds versus Rommie McNeill. His real job was to not get pinned and he did it,” Bell said. “I knew he (Marquez) could wrestle that match and come out on top. He’s had a great offseason and a great start to the season.”
The Pirates used that start, three pins in their next five matches and back-to-back decision at heavyweight and 106 pounds to go up 27-18 in the match. From there, the Rams rallied behind their lower weight classes.
Purnell Swett got back-to-back pins at 120 pounds from Noah Emmanuel and Jasten Simmons at 126 pounds to bring the match to 33-30 for the final match of the contest.
“Halfway through we took that break and went to the locker room and I told them that we came here to do a job and get it done. They kind of understood what the mission was to come out here and get some bonus points to rally the score back,” Barnes said.
The 132-pound match featured Lumberton’s Yakemiean Johnson, the No. 1 wrestler in that class in the state, and Purnell Swett’s Will Deese, the No. 3 wrestler on that list. The bout matched the build up from both the state rankings and the match score with the Rams needing a decision win to tie the match or a pin to win it. Deese came away with a 9-5 decision due to a third-period takedown to top Johnson.
“We’ve just got to go back into the room and defend that low shot that he kept getting on him,” Bell said of Johnson. “We’ve got to learn to defend against that because we are going to see Will again in the conference, in the region and probably in the states.”
Other winners for the Rams were Brody Oxendine, Ronald McNeill and Millard Locklear. Lumberton’s Derrick McCall, Tray Regan and Curran Bedell also earned wins.
Lumberton wrestles next at the Western Harnett duals and the Rams go to the Red Devil super duals at Newton-Conover this weekend.
Jonathan Bym can be reached at 910-816-1977 or by email at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @Jonathan_Bym.