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.
Clark repeats in showdown with Devers: Cary senior Will Clark accomplished all he set out to do this season with an unbeaten final year, but he had to face a fellow Southwest Wake Athletic Conference foe to do it. Clark defeated Holly Springs junior Cam Devers 13-6 for the 138-pound 4A title.
The senior N.C. State recruit, who was hampered by injuries this season and missed more than two months, ends his career with a 140-2 mark.
“Maybe not a perfect start, but a perfect ending,” Clark said.
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Wade joins Clark: After Clark’s win, Cary coaches Taylor Cummings and Anthony Dunbar didn’t have to move. Clark didn’t stray too far either, with hopes that his teammate, junior Kollin Wade, could make it two champs in a few minutes.
Wade obliged in overtime, winning 3-1 to a wrestler he had lost two twice during the year. He was named Most Outstanding Wrestler in 4A.
“I knew I had to stay low, circle and not touch him too much, keep my distance and shoot from the outside,” Wade said. “It makes me so much more grateful to have a teammate like Will Clark.”
Riverside’s champs: Riverside claimed two 4A champions in seniors Jaquon Sowell (170 pounds) and Gary Whitaker (285). Araad Sarrami (195) was a runner-up in his class.
“These are the guys who really brought Riverside back,” coach Brandon Palmer said.
Sowell did what he does best, getting a 1-0 lead and not allowing his opponent to escape. It was similar to his state title last year.
“I just knew whoever I was going against, I was going to work harder than them,” Sowell said.
Whitaker stayed aggressive in his 4-2 win. The senior was third a year ago.
“I just knew if I’m working to score, they can’t worry about their offense; they have to worry about their defense. If you work hard for six minutes, they can’t score on you,” Whitaker said.
Durham dominance: The Bull City claimed one other state champion as Southern Durham’s James Taylor III (3A 195) came away with his second title as a high school athlete. Taylor, who won 3-2, also won a NCHSAA football title as a junior and will play for Shaw next fall.
He won with his dad, James Taylor Jr., coaching him.
“A lot of work went into it,” said coach Taylor. “When he came into the high school ranks, he knew he could be a state champ or a two-time champ. He just knew.”
The younger Taylor reminisced about training with his father.
“The work I put in with my dad – the summers, the Sundays – got me to this point.
Northern Durham’s Atavion Oliver (4A, 182 pounds) and N.C. Science and Math’s Caleb Cox (2A, 126) gave Durham schools two other runner-up finishes.
Bartram becomes second champ: Samuel Bartram of Union Pines didn’t relinquish a 3-1 lead he built for himself in the second period of his 3A 138-pound title match to become the Vikings’ second champ in school history.
“When I got that lead – right then I knew the match was over,” Bartram said.
Daggett follows his brother: Chatham Central sophomore Nick Daggett watched older brother James win his first state title a season ago to clinch the Bears’ 1A tournament title. After finishing third himself last year, he joins his brother in the family winners’ circle.
“I had a ton of fun and tried to rack up as many points as I could,” Nick said. “I feel I can win two more (titles) easy after that.”
Runners-up: Cox, Oliver, Sarrami, Devers, Cox, Cleveland’s Mathews Cruz-Cruz (3A 132), Orange’s Byron Stephenson (3A 285) and, for the second straight year, Apex’s Chance Davis (4A 132).
Third-place wrestlers: Green Hope’s Michael Eastwood (4A 106), Wake Forest’s Nick Mutio (4A 120), Northern Durham’s Demazio Samuel (4A 195), Corinth Holders’ Austin Palmer (3A 126), Northwood’s Hunter Queen (3A 160), South Granville’s Nathean Castillo (2A 113), Voyager Academy’s Patrick Tomasic (1A 152) and, for the second year in a row, Chatham Central’s Casey Canterbury (1A 285).
Taking fourth: Holly Springs’ Travian Cooke (4A 170) and Josh Richardson (4A 182), Panther Creek’s Joshua Lehr (4A 113), Millbrook’s Vincent Ngwu (4A 220), Orange’s Joe Scott (3A 138), Franklinton’s Dalton White (2A 106), Carrboro’s Dante Veltri (2A 120), Southern Vance’s Demonte Blash (2A 132), South Granville’s Bryce Talley (2A 145), N.C. Science and Math’s Dylan Millson (2A 152), Princeton’s Michael Daughtry (1A 132)
Finishing fifth: Heritage’s Anthony Brito (4A 126), Broughton’s Lamont Burt (4A 152), Union Pines’ Antonio Menozi (3A 113) and Reagan Fedowitz (3A 132), Southern Durham’s Shemar Brandon (3A 152).
Claiming sixth: Cary’s Reid Stewart (4A 113), Knightdale twins Brandon (4A 170) and Bradley Skinner (4A 182), Holly Springs’ Shane Newman (4A 220), Triton’s Caleb Brown (3A 145), Northwood’s John Dunning (3A 195), Carrboro’s Trenton Davis (2A 145) and Carl Fulghieri (2A 170), South Granville’s Austin Brogden (2A 195)
Team scores: 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.