Two area wrestlers – Cary sophomore Will Clark (126 pounds) and Southeast Raleigh senior Phillip Shuler (285) – are undefeated as they enter this weekend’s N.C. High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament championships.
The first round began Thursday night at the Greensboro Coliseum for 3A and 2A, while all other classifications weighed in before beginning Friday. The finals are set for Saturday at around 5 p.m.
Orange is the reigning 3A tournament champ and has won three in the past five years.
Last year’s tournament was a quiet one for Triangle individuals, as only seven wrestlers claimed state titles. That should improve this year.
Northern Durham’s Rodney Shepard (152) and Josh Brown (103), as well as Clark, are ranked No. 1 in their weight classes regardless of classification. Brown and Chatham Central’s James Daggett are two area wrestlers who finished runner-up in last year’s finals.
N.C. Science & Math’s Henry Seiler (138), Orange’s Jack Twomey-Kozak (138) and Anderson Pope (145) and Shuler are ranked as the top wrestlers in their weight class for their schools’ respective classifications.
Seiler, who is from Madison, is the area’s lone returning state champ.
Nine Triangle-area wrestlers had just one loss – Shepard, Jordan’s Tyrece Jones (182), Knightdale’s LaMar Dulin (195), Holly Springs’ Aaron Redus (103), Javon Johnson (138) and Parker Ragsdale (120), Cary’s Alex Ynoquio (132), Apex’s Jake Castagnero (195) and Southeast Raleigh’s LeVincent Clark.
There were 60 local 4A wrestlers to qualify for the state tournament, with Cary leading the way with seven. Holly Springs, which won the 4A Mideast regional – breaking a 20-year streak of Cary’s – qualified six.
Orange has a shot to repeat its state tournament title as the Panthers qualified 10 wrestlers. Cleveland has five qualifiers in 3A.
Carrboro has five qualifiers to lead the way among Triangle 2A schools while Corinth Holders has four.
In 1A, Chatham Central qualified five of its wrestlers.