With Shaw wrestling coach Chris Huffman sidelined due to wisdom tooth surgery, assistant Parise Bailey took the lead for the Raiders at Saturday’s Region 1-AAAA tournament. What Bailey saw as the afternoon went on was something he and the team won’t soon forget.
Shaw produced throughout Saturday’s tournament and finished second in the standings with 146 points behind Cairo, which won with 191. The strong showing by the Raiders came thanks to two victories in the finals from Carl Asberry and Keyshawn Stewart as well as three runner-up finishes.
While the team did fall short of a victory, that didn’t make the effort any less special for Bailey.
“Second place for us is big right now,” Bailey said. “We’re trying to build the program up to where it was a few years ago. This is a huge step for us today.”
In Bailey’s eyes, no performance could top that from Asberry. Despite his family dealing with a house fire earlier in the week, the senior did not miss a practice in preparation for the regional matches.
He advanced to the finals in the 113-pound division but had a scare seconds into his match with Americus Sumter’s Quendarious Hightower when Asberry was dropped on his head. After regrouping and deciding he could keep going, he pinned Hightower to give Shaw its first finals victory.
“That’s huge,” Bailey said of Asberry’s performance. “That’s the kind of character he has, and you try to get that same character in the rest of the kids.”
Stewart delivered the Raiders’ second finals win as the day wound down. He jumped out to an early lead and outlasted Columbus’ Mikail Albritton to take home the honors in the 220-pound division.
Cairo, meanwhile, exited the tournament as the winners in its first season in the region. Head coach Kevin Elliott admitted he was a little disappointed that only three of the Syrupmakers’ six finalists won but added he was pleased overall with how the day went.
“We’ve got a lot of work to do,” Elliott said. “The good thing is we’re really young this year. The future is bright for Cairo. We just have to keep working.”
The wrestlers who won in their weight classes on Saturday will be back at it on Friday when sectional matches begin. With the goal of making it to state even closer now for some of his wrestlers, Bailey drove home the point that Saturday’s showing could only be a stepping stone.
“We have to put them in uncomfortable situations Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday,” Bailey said. “So what, you got a medal today. We’ve got bigger fish to fry. We’re trying to get state qualifiers and state champions.”
Cairo 191, Shaw 146, Columbus 114, Americus Sumter 105, Hardaway 102.5, Northside Columbus 96, Carver Columbus 52, Westover 29.
106-Denias Johnson (Northside Columbus) def. Chase Entrekin (Hardaway), 18-6
113-Carl Asberry (Shaw) pinned Quendarious Hightower (Americus Sumter)
120-Robert Mulvany (Columbus) def. Sh’Kale Barnes (Hardaway), 13-4
126-Duwalt Duvenhage (Cairo) pinned Nicholas Harris (Carver Columbus)
132-Montrellis Wilson (Americus Sumter) def. Jacob Jenkins (Shaw), 17-10
138-Courtland Staples (Northside Columbus) def. Read Elliott (Cairo), 5-3
145-Josh McAlister (Columbus) def. Johnny Doyle (Cairo), 13-5
152-AJ Stokes (Americus Sumter) pinned Likobe Teal (Cairo)
160-Jonathan Toole (Columbus) pinned Michael Vining (Northside Columbus)
170-Kylan Draper (Hardaway) pinned Markevion Thomas (Shaw)
182-Matthew Cromer (Cairo) pinned Chazz Gosnell (Shaw)
195-Jahsari Patterson (Cairo) pinned Trendric Ingram (Americus Sumter)
220-Keyshawn Stewart (Shaw) def. Mikail Albritton (Columbus), 12-6
285-William NanaFabu (Columbus) pinned Kemeul Hood (Carver Columbus)