SHALLOTTE – Terrell Mondragon’s reaction was stoic, reserved. The Ashley wrestler looked almost stunned at what was going on around him.
His brother, Joe, was the exact opposite. Leaping into the air, arms flailing, mouth open, Joe Mondragon’s expression was like he had just won the match.
“That’s my motivation to go out there to watch him succeed with what he does,” Joe Mondragon said. “To see him prosper and go through and win that, match, he’s lost to that kid twice this year, to see him go through and win that match it just meant a lot.”
The Ashley brothers had plenty to celebrate on Saturday. Terrell captured the 126-pound championship at the Mideastern Conference wrestling tournament, securing a 4-2 victory over West Brunswick’s Lincoln Smith in the finals.
Joe followed suit moments later, taking down Laney’s Dallas Thompson via pin in 24 seconds to win the 132-pound championship.
Terrell’s title left his slightly stunned, especially after seeing Smith twice in the regular season. Both times, the West Brunswick veteran had been able to pulled out shutout wins (3-0 and 2-0).
With his arm locked behind his back, Terrell was able to break out of Smith’s hold with under a minute remaining, turning a 2-2 tie into a 4-2 lead.
“It was one of the toughest moments I’ve had all season. I’m just so proud of myself right now because of it,” Terrell Mondragon said. “All the hard work I’ve done this year has come up to this. This is probably the best feeling in the world.”
The Mondragon brothers were far from the only bright spot for the Screaming Eagles.
Austin Gabriele capped the day with a 17-8 decision over West Brunswick’s Peyton Tipton in the 152-pound championship, giving Ashley three victories from all three wrestlers who made the championship finals. After the match, Gabriele was selected by the Mideastern Conference coaches as the league’s wrestler of the year. Ashley also got third-place finishes from William Adame (106) and Tyriq Bradley (138)
That’s a far cry from where the program finished last season. In 2014, Ashley finished dead last the MEC championship. This season, the team scored 102 points to take third overall. It’s the highest first for the program in school history and the most individual championships in one season.
“It feels great. We’ve just been working so hard this season. Everybody works hard,” Gabriele said.
First-year coach Mike Smith has stressed to his team the importance of hard work and being accountable all season. On Saturday, those lessons yielded a reward.
“I’d like that to say that they’re all maturing character-wise. That’s what we try to coach and we put an emphasis on and I’ve seen them all grow. That has been the big push for the team and they’ve all excelled at that,” Smith said.
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