Cary High junior Will Clark won the 132-pound junior national championship in the 25th annual National High School Wrestling Championships on Sunday in Virginia Beach, Va.
Clark topped a 98-wrestler field that included wrestlers from 34 states. They were 20 state champions in his class.
He defeated Zach Weiland of Missouri, 2-1, for the title.
“I felt like I controlled the match more than the score indicated,” Clark said. “I was probably more relaxed and confident in that match than any other.”
He said his opening 11-1 decision over Bret Romanzak of Virginia was his toughest match.
“Mentally, that one was the hardest,” he said. “I was trying to adjust to being in the tournament. I was confident, but I was really nervous.”
He later took an 8-1 win over Jack Gillis of Florida and a 6-2 win over Andrew Smith of Florida to set up a quarterfinal match with Kyler Hansen of California.
“I was ahead, but I lost my focus and he came back to tie it up at 4-4 and send us to overtime,” Clark recalled.
He had a reversal and takedown in the extra period to win 9-5. He topped Pat McLaughlin of New Jersey, 4-0 in the semifinals.
In the championship match, Clark scored a reversal in the second period and controlled the rest of the match, giving up a one-point stalling penalty in the final seconds of the championship win over Weiland.
“I can say that I’m a national champion,” Clark said. “I know that it is going to be just as hard and probably harder next year, but it is a great feeling.”
Clark won the 2014 N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A 138-pound title and finished 49-1. He is 104-2 during his high school varsity career.
Clark is Cary’s third national champion in the meet. Eloheim Palma won the 2009 seniors heavyweight title in 2009 and Joey Farnsworth was the 2006 juniors champ at 103.
NCHSAA high school wrestlers cannot wrestle for their schools after the NCHSAA championships so Clark wrestled for the Arrichion club for coaches Ty Reynolds and Anthony Dunbar.