Getting to a state championship was something Anthony Brito had worked for his entire high school wrestling career.
Winning one gave that dedication a purpose.
Brito, a junior from Heritage, was one of seven Triangle wrestlers to win an N.C. High School Athletic Association championship on Feb. 20 in Greensboro.
The title was big for Brito as an individual, but it was huge for his school.
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He won the first Huskies championship in any sport.
“It means a lot,” Brito said of the 3-1 decision over Lake Norman’s Zak Rainess in the 132-pound bout. “It shows that I’ve been doing the right things and my coaches have been doing the right things. I’m happy I could win it for myself, my family and my school.
“It’s just a great feeling.”
Brito said his mother influenced both him and his older brother to wrestle.
“(My brother) has always been supportive,” Brito said. “He’s always watching and just giving me pointers. He’s like another coach, basically.”
He has been involved for about seven years and now wrestles under Heritage coach Thomas Durham.
Brito started in middle school and enjoyed the sport.
He said he likes the “individual feel about it. Your success in the sport relies on how much you put into it.”
He kicked it up a notch this season to get the results he wanted.
“I’ve been trying to increase my intensity,” Brito said about how much he adjusted his junior season. “It’s helped me in matches and it’s translated. (I wanted to) push the pace, which was helpful to me.”
Brito finished his individual season 51-2 overall.
In the state championship, he went up 3-0 in the second period after an escape. A takedown in the first gave him the edge over Rainess.
“I was nervous, but I was a confident kind of nervous,” Brito said of the championship match. “I was ready to go out there. I’ve been trying to make it here my whole high school career. I wasn’t going to squander the opportunity.”
Brito said he was congratulated by classmates and teachers after bringing Heritage a championship.
With his senior year before him, he has plans to defend his title.
“I want to win it again,” Brito said. “I want to become a two-timer. That would be pretty big.”
Jessika Morgan: 919-829-4538, @JessikaMorgan
Hometown: Wake Forest
Sport / Class: Wrestling / 132 pound
Fun fact: His older brother also wrestles