Benitez, Lopez place first at Dudley High wrestling tournament Saturday

Eastern Alamance had four wrestlers finish in the top three of the Crosby Invitational, held at Greensboro's Dudley High School over the weekend. 113-pound Willfen Lopez and 132-pound Ivan "Tommy" Benitez placed first overall at the tournament, while 152-pound Damian Beaver and 160-pound Julian Rodriguez each placed third overall. The Eagles return to the mat this week with a home Central Conference dual team match against Northwood, followed by the Andy Hawks Duals on Saturday, January 15.

Following a two week break from matches and tournaments for the Holiday break, the Eastern Alamance High wrestling team returned to action the evening of Wednesday, January 5 with a Central Conference dual team match on the road in Roxboro against Person County. The match was hard-fought and came down to the wire, but Person managed to sneak past the Eagles, 36-33. 

The Eagles got an impressive victory from standout Ivan “Tommy” Benitez, who pinned Person’s Christopher Ceballos at the 1:06 mark of the first period in the 138-pound match. Jahzion Patterson followed Benitez in the 145-pound match by pinning Davis Garrett of the Rockets in just 41 seconds. The Eagles got a third straight victory from Damien Beaver, who pinned Easton McLain in the closing seconds of the first period (1:57) in the 152-pound match. EAHS also got forfeit victories from Mason Tanner (126 pounds), Aiden Clark (160 pounds), and Julian Rodriguez (170 pounds).  

Unfortunately for the Eagles, the Rockets were dominant in the lower and higher weight classes, doing just enough to earn the narrow victory. Fabian Rivera pinned EAHS’s Kaitlyn Watson in the first round of the 106-pound match (0:34), while Christian Lemaire defeated Eastern’s 113-pound grappler, Willfen Lopez, by a 6-2 decision. In another key victory for the Rockets, Payne Garrett pinned Carson Gardner midway through the first round (1:17) of the 132-pound match. Patrick Anderson added a second round pin of Eastern’s Jackson Fulcher (2:29) in the 182-pound match. The Rockets and Eagles had a double forfeit in the 195-pound match. 

The Rockets pushed through for the team victory in the upper weight classes, as Victor Rodriguez pinned Hakim Thompson in the first round (1:32) of the 220-pound match, and Trevquan Gray pinned Christopher Gonzales-Turner at the conclusion of the third round of the 285-pound match (5:51). The Rockets also got a forfeit win from Derrick Laycock at 120 pounds. 

Following the tough loss to Person County, the Eagles traveled on Greensboro Saturday to participate in the Crosby Invitational on the campus of Dudley High School. The tournament brought a total of 18 schools to compete against each other, including Bishop McGuinness, Davie County, Greensboro’s Dudley, Page, and Grimsley High Schools, Lexington, Morehead, North Davidson, North Stokes, Orange, R.J. Reynolds, Reidsville, Richmond County, Southeast Guilford, Southern Guilford, Southwest Guilford, and West Charlotte. 

Two Eagles - Ivan “Tommy” Benitez (132 pounds), and Willfen Lopez (113 pounds) came away with first place honors at the Crosby Invitational, while two others - Julian Rodriguez (160 pounds) and Damian Beaver (152 pounds) took third place honors. 

On his way to the tournament victory in his weight class, Benitez picked up a pin over Morehead High’s Tyler Thompson in just 36 seconds, as well as a pin of Jared Hutchins of Orange. Lopez added a pin of Orange’s Kale Womble on his way to the 113-pound championship. 

Although Rodriguez suffered a tough 7-3 loss to Mekhi Hairston of Morehead in the semifinals of his 160-pound weight class, he rallied to earn an 11-1 major decision triumph over Bruce Dudley of Southern Guilford on his way to third place. Beaver picked up a first round pin of Lexington High’s Austin Thomas (1:25), and earned a hard-fought 4-2 victory over North Davidson in the third place match. 

Mason Tanner also had a solid tournament at 126 pounds, earning a first round pin of Dudley’s Jamarr Parker (1:12) in the quarterfinal round. Although he was pinned by Orange’s Dillon Heffernan, Tanner advanced to the consolation semifinals, where he was eliminated in an 11-6 decision by David Bahena of Lexington. 

Other Eagles to participate in the Crosby Invitational included Kaitlyn Watson (106 pounds), Jahzion Patterson (138 pounds), Jackson Fulcher (170 pounds), Noel Jennings (220 pounds), and Christopher Gonzales-Turner (285 pounds). 

EAHS will return to the mat on Thursday night, as the Eagles will host Northwood High in a Central Conference dual team match. Eastern will then participate in the Andy Hawks Duals on Saturday, January 15. The Eagles close out the regular season with a road dual team match at Orange the evening of Wednesday, January 19, followed by the Central Conference Tournament on Saturday, January 22.