Currituck coach Paul Bossi isn’t saying the Knights’ 53-25 thumping of First Flight back in December means nothing ... but it won’t carry much weight when the two teams tangle in the expected title match of the Northeastern Coastal Conference team wrestling tournament today at First Flight.
Both teams have changed since December: the five-time defending champion Knights for worse, the Nighthawks for better.
Currituck will be missing at least three regulars due to injury and has lost a few others to attrition while First Flight has some wrestlers going today who weren’t there the last time.
“Really, our first match with them was no indication,” Bossi said. “They were missing some good guys that day and now they are all back. They have only nine guys, but they are all tough as nails. They are really tough from 126 to 170.
“They’re going to forfeit some matches at the end, but that’s where we would be winning anyway, so that doesn’t help us much.”
Had the tournament been held last week, when it was originally scheduled before snow forced postponement, Currituck would have been a decided underdog as Bossi was expecting to forfeit as many as five weight classes due to a rash of injuries.
The Knights may not give away any today, but not because all of the injured starters are back.
Freshmen P.J. Connors (145) and Matt Santini (152) and first-year wrestler Josh Garrett (220) will be filling in for regulars.
If Currituck is to win its sixth straight NCC team title, it will have to win key bouts involving Tanner Stephens (132), Parker Hammer (138) and Vance Marler (182).
“It could be very close and those three matches will probably decide it,” Bossi said. “Who wins and how they win will make or break it.”
At full strength, Currituck, which has a 13-4 record in dual meets, was too strong for the rest of the NCC. The Knights went 10-0 against conference foes this year.
In other seasons, that would have earned Currituck a title. But for the second year in a row, the championship is being decided by a round-robin tournament, with First Flight and the Knights scheduled to face each other in the final match of the day.
Pasquotank (4-5), Edenton (3-10), Northeastern (3-22) and Hertford (7-17) round out the field.
Also at stake today will be seedings for the Feb. 9 conference individual championships at Northeastern.
Records compiled in today’s action will decide the seedings.