The most valuable thing about the Chapel Hill Quads was sleep insurance.
Carrboro wrestling coach DeWitt Driscoll can rest assured that all the nights he spent at the North Carolina Children’s Hospital were worth it.
It would have been that way even if junior wrestler Dante Veltri hadn’t won any of his three matches Tuesday night at Chapel Hill High School. The fact he scored three pins was just gravy.
Last year, Veltri was training to become a 2A state champion, much like his teammate and friend George Carpenter had won the 113-pound title.
Then in September 2013, Velri was diagnosed with Non-Hodgkins Lymphoma.
Driscoll stayed in the North Carolina Children’s Hospital with Veltri, at one point staying 10 consecutive days
That still didn’t take him away from the mats.
“When he wasn’t at the hospital, he was at practice,” said Driscoll. “It’s amazing what he did. He got diagnosed in October and he was cancer free by February. He was wrestling again by May.”
Instead of the glory of holding a state championship trophy in Winston-Salem, Veltri spent the year battling to become cancer-free. Veltri was so determined, he actually gained 10 pounds during chemotherapy treatments.
Veltri’s official return to the mat came at a tournament in Union Pines last weekend, where he went 2-2 in individual matches.
On Tuesday, he scored his first pin since his return in 24 seconds. He then felled Wilson Hunt’s Blake Horner in 1:01. The coup de grace came when he scored a pin against Northwest Guilford in 2:49.
Carrboro finished 2-1 at the Chapel Hill Quads to open their dual wrestling season on Tuesday, beating Hunt 53-26, North Johnston 45-28 and falling to Northwest Guilford 54-24. Jaguars Maxim Gault (195) and Akim Dunston also went 3-0 Tuesday.
The Chapel Hill Tigers also went 2-1 in the duals, beating Hunt (45-28) and N. Johnston (66-18) before also losing to Northwest Guilford (53-21).
Chapel Hill wrestling coach Tripp Price is still waiting to get his full compliment of grapplers back for the remainder of the season. George McBurney (220) and Hudson Price (285) were still with the CHHS football team in the state playoffs last week.
On Tuesday, the stars of the night for the Tigers were Zach Allen, who scored three victories at 120 pounds after running cross country during the fall, and Eric Jens (170) and I’Money Rushing (132), who also went 3-0.
Carrboro has plenty of room for growth after losing three grapplers who finished in the top four of the 2A state championships last year. George Carpenter (120), Stephen Dreher (126) and Carson McKay (182) all graduated from a squad that lost to Dixon in the 2A Eastern Regional Championship match last year.
Still, Driscoll doesn’t exactly review this campaign as a rebuilding year.
“This team is capable of a lot,” said Driscoll. “We only have two seniors on our team right now, but we have a ton of potential. ... I really think we can be just as good as we were last year, if not a little bit better.”