Improving Wolverines drop close conference loss to Mountain Heritage

Jane Ollis photo

Nowhere is the progress that Polk County’s wrestling program has made this season more evident than at the end of matches.

Earlier in the season, the Wolverines would have been been happy filling every weight class for nights such as Wednesday’s conference clash with Mountain Heritage.

But now results such as the 47-31 loss to the Cougars in the Western Highlands Conference match at Polk leave the Wolverines genuinely disappointed at not being able to take home another dual meet win.

“We’re still young. We’ve got three seniors and a bunch of freshmen and sophomores,” said Polk County athletic director Rex Wells, who has served as the team’s head coach during the second half of the season.

“We’re getting better. The kids fought those guys hard. If we could have changed a match here and there it would have made a difference.”

Coming off Tuesday’s win at Avery, Polk County got a major decision at 126 points by Preston Burnett to open the match, then fell behind 18-4 before pulling within 24-16 as Dillon Knighton won by forfeit at 152 pounds and Trey Thompson recorded a second-period fall at 170.

Mountain Heritage, though, claimed the next three matches before Polk senior Devin Panchyshyn stopped the run with a decision at heavyweight, ensuring the win with a pair of takedowns in the final period.

Chris Rickman won by forfeit at 106 pounds and Tristan Watkins notched a first-period pin at 113 to close out the scoring for the Wolverines.

“I’m proud of the guys. They’ve been working hard,” Wells said. “This is such a great sport.”

Polk County will compete Friday in the Western Highlands Conference individual tournament at Avery. The Wolverines will then either host Asheville on Tuesday or take part in the 1A dual team championships as a wild card team. Pairings for the dual team tournament will be announced Monday.