The rivalry between Lake Norman and Mooresville high schools has developed into one of the best grudge matches in Charlotte area over the last decade.
While the battle is most evident and talked about on the basketball court and the football field, one of the best and most consistent contests every year happens when the Blue Devils and Wildcats meet on the wrestling mat.
This year will be no exception, as Mooresville travels to Lake Norman on Wednesday night in a meet that will decide the I-Meck regular season crown. "I can't think of any other sports where Lake Norman and Mooresville are consistently No. 1 and 2 in the league (I-Meck)," said Mooresville wrestling coach Ben Watson, who expects to wrestle in front of a sold-out crowd. "Not only is it a great rivalry and for bragging rights, but obviously it means a lot in the I-Meck."
Coach Morgan Fore's Lake Norman team, No. 4 in the state according to retrorankings.com, comes into the Feb. 1 meet at 27-4 overall, including 5-0 in I-Meck play.
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Meanwhile, Watson's Mooresville squad 30-7 overall (5-0 in the I-Meck) and No. 10 in retrorankings.com's tournament poll.
Last year, Lake Norman won the regular season title, and Mooresville came back a few days later to win the I-Meck tournament championship.
This year, the two teams will meet again two times in a four-day span, with the I-Meck championships on Saturday.
Lake Norman will be led by juniors Cody Karns (113-pound weight class) and Jackson Dowless (220) and senior Patrick Devlin (145) and Jonathan DiBernard (182).
Mooresville counters with a lot of experience and talent in seniors Zach Brown (285), Matt Krider (126) and Daniel Burzlaff, with juniors Sam Crisp (106) and Dontrez Patterson (170) also standing out this season.
While the top wrestlers for both teams will likely win their matches, it will likely come down to the more evenly matched weight classes.
After this week, both teams will try to prove they are again among the state's best over the next month, with state dual playoffs held Feb. 7-11, the 4A Western Regionals, Feb. 17-18, and then the state individual meet on Feb. 24-25.
Hot Players, Teams
Shivaughn Wiggins, North Mecklenburg: Every time you think Wiggins can't top himself, he does it again, this time going for 30 points against Lake Norman in his team's 72-54 win over the Wildcats. Wiggins is now averaging 26 points and five assist per game for the Vikings.
Lake Norman Charter Girls Basketball Team: The Knights were 12-4 overall going into the weekend, including 6-2 in their first year in the Southern Piedmont conference. Coach Bobby Williams and company have done it without his daughter, Jamie, who left the team for personal reasons in January.
Guards Alex Busch and Carolyn Huddy have stepped up for their team, while 6-foot-2 center Ezzine Mbamalu has also been big in the middle.
The Hough boys' and girls' swimming teams rolled to dominant wins at the I-Meck championships last weekend at Mecklenburg County Aquatic Center.
The Husky boys were led by senior Peter Brumm and junior Jack Manchester, who won all four events they swam in, including two relays each, en route to a 185-point win.
The Hough girls were led by Emily Allen, Ally DuPay and Heather Merritt, who accounted for four wins, including relays, winning their first I-Meck title by 223 points.
Hough now looks to take on a talented regional field on Friday and Saturday at Huntersville Fitness and Aquatic Center. The state meet is Feb. 9-11 at Triangle Aquatic Center in Cary.
Heck of a Swim
Logan Heck also had a record-breaking night in the pool for his Wildcats, setting conference records in the 50-yard freestyle (21.14 seconds) and 100 breaststroke (1:00.24). Heck also made an unbelievable comeback for his team to win the 400-yard freestyle relay, catching Hough's Andrew Bothello in the final leg of the race after starting more than three body lengths behind.