ROCKINGHAM — The wrestling match between Richmond Senior and Scotland turned into a battle of math skills.
Scotland coach Nicky Kee and Richmond coach Earl Nicholson were not only battling for a victory between the two rivals, but also for second place in the Southeastern Conference.
The winner would receive the final automatic bid from the conference into the 4A dual team wrestling playoffs, while the loser’s fate will rest in the hands of the selection committee to earn a spot as a wild-card entrant.
The Fighting Scots knew they would have to overcome an 18-point deficit with forfeits in the 170-, 220- and 285-pound weight classes looming. After reeling off four pinfall victories in the opening five matches, Scotland lost at 145 when Devontae Watkins earned a 5-2 decision over Jessi Kee.
This forced Nicky Kee to start doing some calculations in his mind during the 152-pound match between Richmond’s RJ Gordiner and Scotland’s Willis Benoit. Several times during the contest Nicky Kee told Benoit to allow Gordiner to earn one point for an escape, so Benoit could grab two points for a takedown.
This strategy was implemented just in case the two teams were knotted at the end of the 14 matches because the number of takedowns is used as a tiebreaker.
Beniot earned a majority decision win and Adrian Soto-Pena earned a pinfall win over Dalton Faurot at 160, while Scotland forfeited at 170.
The Scots held a 34-15 advantage going into the 182-pound contest when Nick Kee clinched the match win for Scotland as well as second place in the SEC with a pinfall victory over Luke Souder.
“He (Nicky Kee) knew 40 was the magic number,” Nicholson said. “If they got to 40, the most points we could get then was 39.”
The Raiders closed out the contest with a majority decision win by Jacob Staub at 195, forfeit wins for Deion Davis and David Watkins and a come-from-behind 9-8 decision victory by Trinity Hunt at 106.
Nicholson thought the outcome could have been different if his starting 113-pound wrestler would have made weight, instead he was forced to insert a freshman into his lineup.
“We lost by a pin and I think he could have won that one,” Nicholson said. “But we need to make weight and do what we are supposed to do.”
Richmond will return to the mats 9 a.m. Saturday in the SEC tournament at Raider Gymnasium.
— Sports editor Shawn Stinson can be reached at 910-997-3111, ext. 14, or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @scgolfer.