Shell earns tourney title

Ethan Shell (right) competes at last year’s NCHSAA state championship wrestling tournament in Greensboro. Shell was a tournament winner at 120 pounds at last week’s North Henderson Knight Invitational event. Teammate River Griffith also won a tournament title at 138 pounds.

HENDERSONVILLE — The Avery Vikings wrestling team continued its early-season success last week, as the team ventured to North Henderson High School for the Knight Invitational. Squaring off as part of a 26-school field from multiple states and across several classifications, the Vikings showed it had the right stuff, as the team earned a pair of individual championships, two runner-up finishes, three additional placers and a third-place overall team finish.

“[The tournament] wasn’t our best performance as a program, but we learned a lot about areas we needed to improve on,” Avery Head Wrestling Coach Matthew Dunn said following the team’s effort at the event.

Sophomore Ethan Shell earned the tournament victory at 120 pounds, earning wins by pinfall over opponents Isaac Solomon (Mt. Zion HS), Cody Hughes from Mitchell and Luke Roberts of McDowell. In the winners bracket semis, Shell won by second-period fall over Science Hill (Tenn.) wrestler Giovanni Demetrikopolos, then earned the championship with a finals victory over Byrnes (SC) High School’s Caden Gore by second-period pin.

Additionally, senior River Griffith continued a stellar career of domination, winning the tournament in the 138-pound weight division. Griffith pinned Polk’s Brennan Worthington in 67 seconds, followed by a 17-2 tech fall victory over Pigeon Forge (Tenn.) wrestler Noah Dyer. Griffith downed AC Reynolds wrestler Elijah Brown by first-period pin, then won semifinal match by first-period pin over Toby Foster of Traveler’s Rest (SC). In the championship match, Griffith defeated Science Hill’s Tyler Seeley by second-period pin to take top honors.

Brothers Levi and Lucas Andrews both had strong efforts at North Henderson, bringing home runner-up finishes. Senior Lucas Andrews wrestled at 182 pounds, picking up pinfall victories over each of his first three opponents in Wyatt Dunning (TC Roberson), Samuel Musser (West Henderson) and Ethan Villanueva (Mt. Zion). In his semifinal match, Lucas defeated Blue Ridge’s Kaleb Horn by a 6-1 decision, but came up short in the championship match by a narrow 6-5 decision against Byrnes High School’s Nick Fazzone.

Levi Andrews was victorious by first-period pinfall at 220 pounds over each of his first three opponents: Patrick Bartlett (TC Roberson), Devontay Burton (Mt. Zion) and Caleb Melton (Byrnes). In the semifinals, Levi won by 4-0 decision over Kodie Hughes of Traveler’s Rest High School. In the championship match, Levi came up short in a 6-3 decision to champion Triston Norris of host North Henderson.

A pair of Vikings, Tristan Adams and Dalton Towe, each earned third-place finishes in the 145-pound and 160-pound weight classes, respectively, with Adams winning three of his five matches on the day and Towe earning four match victories during the event.

“Dalton Towe showed the greatest rate of improvement from one week to the other that I have ever seen,” Dunn noted.

Zachary Vance, wrestling at 285 pounds, earned a pair of pinfall victories, but came up short in the third-place match by 10-3 decision to Smoky Mountain’s Ethan Grasly.

Avery was the highest placer of any participating school from North Carolina, despite not fielding a full lineup at the tournament.

“In a field of 26 teams it’s inevitable to run into some quality opponents,” Dunn explained. “We have some minor injuries that are keeping kids out of the lineup, and it’s pointless to further aggravate injuries this time of year.”

Avery returns to the mat this week with a quad meet at North Wilkes on Dec. 4 and the Tuscola Duals at Tuscola High School in Waynesville on Saturday, Dec. 7.

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