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It has been a long time since Newton-Conover Middle School has lost a wrestling match in Catawba County.
In fact, Tuesdayâ€™s 52-26 win over Maiden Middle School marks the 100th straight victory the young Red Devils have notched.
â€śThis is bigger than any championship we could actually win ... Thatâ€™s 100 consecutive wins over the past eight years,â€ť said Newton-Conover Middle School wrestling coach Ben Crawford. â€śWe have been undefeated countywide. We had to get four wins this season. We ran off three in a row and hit the fourth one here.â€ť
Crawford, in his first year as head wrestling coach at the middle school, doesnâ€™t take much credit, however.
â€śIt shows how hard the kids work. We have been through three different coaches during that time, so you know it is not the coaches,â€ť said Crawford, who was an assistant coach last year. â€śIt is just the boys. They are very coachable. They want to win.â€ť
That desire benefits the wrestling program at the high school level, too.
â€śWhen we see these guys come in as ninth-graders, they already have the basics, and they have a hunger for winning and competing,â€ť said Newton-Conover High School wrestling coach Eddy Clark. â€śWe are head and shoulders above some of the other high schools in the state because of that. It makes a big difference.â€ť
Clark said that from an early age, Newton-Conover wrestlers get inducted into the Red Devils wrestling system.
â€śWe try to make it one program, and it starts with the youth league, the kindergartners all the way up to the seniors,â€ť he said. â€śWe feel like we work together, so obviously our lifeblood is a strong middle school program. We get to start ahead of a lot of high schools in North Carolina.â€ť
Crawford himself is a product of Newton-Conoverâ€™s wrestling program, and he, too, hopes to continue the strong wrestling tradition - even past the 100-win mark.
â€śHopefully, we can send more good kids up to the high school and they can keep winning,â€ť he said. â€śIt is fantastic to come back to my hometown again. I feel very lucky to have a job like this.â€ť
Newton-Conover: 52, Maiden: 26
83 lbs.: Austin Klutz (NC) pin Jacob Wilson (M); 93 lbs.: Chris Payne (NC) d. Alan Grant (M); 103 lbs.: Holden Benfield (NC) d. Eric Rivera (M); 112 lbs: Ben Forney (NC) pin Travis Sawyer (M); 119 lbs.: Gavin Thomas (M) d. Kyle Hall-Malone (NC); 125 lbs.: Brandon Lee (M) pin Sam Oesterling (NC); 130 lbs.: Josh Walker (NC) d. Tydre D. (M); 135 lbs.: Dan Avis (NC) pin Alex Murphy (M); 140 lbs.: John Pertin (M) pin Chris Boston (NC);145 lbs.: Slade Young (M) d. Tyler Henneforth (NC); 152 lbs.: Tyler Church (NC) pin Ryan Reese (M); 160 lbs.: Dylan Stanley (NC) pin Zach Stallings (M); 171 lbs.: Will Early (M) pin Daquan Rinehardt (NC); 189 lbs.: NC win by forfeit; 250 lbs.: Tre Clark (NC) pin Logan Z. (M).