Brody Wolfe scrambled to his feet, breathing hard, cotton ball keeping a bloody nose in check.
Wolfe still stood as a winner, though – overcoming all obstacles just as Polk County Middle has done all season.
Wolfe made school history and the Wolverine wrestling team did the same, rolling to a 77-9 home victory over Rugby Middle that capped the program’s first undefeated regular season.
Polk extended its school record for victories in a season, improving to 14-0 and completing a run to a second straight Blue Ridge Conference East Division title. Wolfe’s hard-fought 6-1 decision over the Raiders’ Austin Morgan gave him the school record for career victories, breaking the mark previously held by Topher Pearson.
But as parents and fans offered post-match congratulations, Polk Middle head coach Jerry Cox noted the team’s ultimate goal – a Blue Ridge Conference championship – remains.
“Congratulations all around, but we’ve still got one more thing to do,” Cox said. “It’s a good feeling. Most wins in a season feels good. We only lost two matches tonight. Fortunately, we had a double forfeit at heavyweight so they didn’t get any points there.
“We’re hitting our stride. You can tell that from what we’re doing on the mat. We’re hitting our stride at the moment, and in years past, that hasn’t been the case.”
A Rugby Middle program that has long been one of the dominant forces in the East Division figured to offer Polk a challenge on Thursday, and that the Raiders did, with several matches ending in decisions and others often going into the third period before being settled.
But Polk Middle still won the first 13 matches, building a 68-0 lead. Simon Moore’s major decision at 147 pounds secured the match win for the Wolverines, and Styler Blackwell and Zach McCraw followed with pins to keep their undefeated records intact. Sawyer Huff also remained perfect with a win at 197 pounds.
Polk Middle will travel Tuesday to Bethel Middle for the conference dual team tournament. The Wolverines will wrestle West Division runner-up Waynesville Middle, with Bethel meeting Apple Valley in the other semifinal. The two winners will then meet to decide the conference champ.
Those matches are set to begin at 4 p.m.
78: Silas Amorelli (PC) p. Noah Howard
85: Gavin Waldbillig (PC) p. Lane Merrill
92: Liam Jackson (PC) p. Phoenix Alm
100: Efrian Rivera (PC) tech. fall Drayton Sweezy, 16-1
108: Jaxtyn Virgil (PC) p. Shep Gordon
115: Brody Wolfe (PC) d. Austin Morgan, 6-1
122: Connor Ahlert (PC) maj. dec. Cooper White, 11-2
128: Evan McCraw (PC) p. Ryland Walsh
134: Isaiah Staley (PC) maj. dec. Hayden Ardema, 15-6
140: Chester Wilson (PC) p. Logan Strauss
147: Simon Moore (PC) maj. dec. Collin Hunter, 12-2
154: Styler Blackwell (PC) p. Cooper Allen
160: Zach McCraw (PC) p. Bo Silcox
172: Luke McKenzie (R) d. Henry Wright, 2-0
184: Daniel Debiase (R) p. Jonathan Sokil
197: Sawyer Huff (PC) p. Jonathan Ortiz
222: Talon Ramsey (PC) d. Caleb Galloway, SV-1, 8-6
252: Double forfeit