Demetree Hardison is catching on to the finer points of wrestling.
The Independence High junior won the heavyweight division at the 21st annual Al Kessie Mecklenburg County Tournament with a 4-2 win against Olympic's Robert Dinkins, the best result in his first season of competition.
"I went to the Jim Hayes (tournament) last week and got cut short, came in fourth," Hardison said.
"I didn't get a bracket or (anything). I went home empty-handed. I felt I had to come to this tournament and show something."
Olympic won the team competition for the second year in a row on its home mat, sliding past Hough 189.5-189. Independence was third with 158.5, and Charlotte Catholic fourth at 148. The Trojans won three weight classes, finished second in three others and scored two fourth-place finishes.
"It was awful close, but us and Hough had a couple of starters out and Hough had some big starters out," Olympic coach Ryan Bean said. "I give big props to their team because they probably would've gotten us if they had their full squad."
A key development for Olympic was first-year wrestler Kemar Noble's upset pin of Hough's Christian York in the 195-pound class semifinals. Although he lost to Berry Academy's Brandon Rodriguez in the final, Noble's unexpected showing boosted the Trojans' cause.
"That was huge, and without that, we would've had no chance," Bean said.
"We won by a half-point and that was 10 points we wouldn't have had; 12 if you count the pin. That win was the difference."
Hardison was up to the task against Dinkins in their six-minute match. In the first two-minute round, he scored a two-point takedown to go ahead, and repeated in the third to extend his lead to 4-1. Hardison's strategy of engaging Dinkins in an upright position allowed him to exploit his quickness when needed.
"I knew he was strong up top and I knew a little bit more than he did, so I just had to use power, use my smarts, use his strength against him," Hardison said. "I wanted to keep pushing him, keep moving him."