It has been a long time since Newton-Conover Middle School has lost a wrestling match in Catawba County.
In fact, Tuesday’s 52-26 win over Maiden Middle School marks the 100th straight victory the young Red Devils have notched.
“This is bigger than any championship we could actually win ... That’s 100 consecutive wins over the past eight years,” said Newton-Conover Middle School wrestling coach Ben Crawford. “We 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.”
Crawford, in his first year as head wrestling coach at the middle school, doesn’t take much credit, however.
“It shows how hard the kids work. We have been through three different coaches during that time, so you know it is not the coaches,” said Crawford, who was an assistant coach last year. “It is just the boys. They are very coachable. They want to win.”
That desire benefits the wrestling program at the high school level, too.
“When we see these guys come in as ninth-graders, they already have the basics, and they have a hunger for winning and competing,” said Newton-Conover High School wrestling coach Eddy Clark. “We are head and shoulders above some of the other high schools in the state because of that. It makes a big difference.”
Clark said that from an early age, Newton-Conover wrestlers get inducted into the Red Devils wrestling system.
“We try to make it one program, and it starts with the youth league, the kindergartners all the way up to the seniors,” he said. “We 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.”
Crawford himself is a product of Newton-Conover’s wrestling program, and he, too, hopes to continue the strong wrestling tradition - even past the 100-win mark.
“Hopefully, we can send more good kids up to the high school and they can keep winning,” he said. “It is fantastic to come back to my hometown again. I feel very lucky to have a job like this.”
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).