Although Triangle teams were not a factor in the N.C. High School Athletic Association individual wrestling tournament team standings, there were seven individuals who took their place atop the podium at night’s end, with plenty more finishing in other spots.
Cleveland’s Mathews Cruz-Cruz led the Johnston County contingent of wrestlers with a runner-up finish in the 3A ranks at 132 pounds. It wasn’t the finish that Cruz-Cruz wanted, it being his second consecutive loss in a state championship match.
"I think I could've wrestled better, but there's nothing I can do about it now,” Cruz-Cruz said. “I've just got to take that and move on and use that to motivate me next year."
He fell to Monroe Piedmont’s Brett Underwood in the championship match, dropping a tight 3-2 decision.
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"I'm looking forward to meeting up with (Underwood) in the offseason,” the Cleveland junior said, “and I'm going to make sure I'm in his weight class next season, too."
At 126 pounds in the 3A ranks, Corinth Holders’ senior Austin Palmer became the second Pirate to record a third place finish at a state meet. (He matched the 2014 finish of Darius Dunn.)
"I thought I had a great weekend,” Plamer said. “I wrestled tough. It kind of sucks I lost my semifinal match but I came back and got third.
"It was kind of a high hope, honestly. I didn't think I would place that high but I'm glad I did. I'm glad I went out with a win in my final match."
Cameron Smith of Corinth Holders tied for seventh in the state at 160 pounds. The sophomore finished the season with a 26-7 mark. Pirates’ senior Luke Turner bowed out with two losses at 170 pounds, going 34-11 in his final prep season.
Princeton junior Michael Daughtry continued his strong finish to the season with a fourth palce finish at 132 pounds in the 1A state championships. Daughtry went 36-7 on the season, grabbing a regional championship and a podium finish at the state meet after battling through a hand injury in December.
“He had a great season, even after missing some matches in December with a fractured bone in his hand,” said Princeton coach Terry Braswell. “Michael works very hard at practice and in the off season to improve his wrestling skills. We’re looking for another great season next year.”
Princeton’s Martin Bayless tied for seventh in the state in the 1A ranks at 138 pounds. He was 37-17 in his senior season.
Clayton’s Trevor Loken tied for seventh in the state in the 4A ranks at 145 pounds. Loken, a junior, finished his season with a 48-12 record.
Participating in the 4A championships but unable to win a match at states were Clayton’s Nick Brown (132), Garner’s Mason Crawford (120) and West Johnston’s Jonathan Rose (220). Southeast Raleigh’s Roberto Phillips was 1-2 in the 4A ranks at 195 pounds.
Fayetteville’s Jack Britt won the 4A crown, Eden’s Morehead High took 3A, Gastonia’s Hunter Huss took 2A and Mitchell County wrapped up the 1A. Britt and Mitchell also claimed the dual-team titles.