Piedmont High School didn’t literally climb a mountain to win the N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A dual-team wrestling championship, but figuratively, it did.
Trailing 27-17 with four matches remaining, Piedmont rallied to stun previously undefeated Orange 29-27 on Piedmont’s home mat Saturday night.
Piedmont (29-1) had also taken down Enka 31-29 for the Western Regional championship Thursday in Newton. It was Enka’s only loss of the season.
Orange (31-1) was one individual win away from its sixth state dual title after Payton Wilson (220 pounds) pinned Ben Austin in 2 minutes, 36 seconds. Heavyweight Luis Oropesa started the Piedmont comeback with a 15-5 major decision over Daylan Alston.
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Piedmont’s biggest win was at 106, where Nate Huntley upset Orange’s Mitchell Askew, ranked 10th in the state, 6-5. Trailing 27-24, Piedmont captured the state title when sophomore Colby Funderburk got a technical fall over Orange’s Noah Davis 18-2 with 1:50 remaining in the second period.
Piedmont captured its third state dual wrestling championship, its first in 3A.
“It’s a heartbreaker,” Orange coach Bobby Shriner said. “It could have gone either way. I felt like we did everything that we needed to do. We thought we were going to pull it out. We just fell short. We left it all on the mat, that’s all we can say.”
Huntley’s win over Askew sent the jammed Piedmont gym into a frenzy, knowing that Funderburk would be a heavy favorite at 113.
In a match with three lead changes and a tie, Orange appeared poised to take the crown after two stunning finishes. At 182, Piedmont’s Garrett Hinson jumped out to a 6-1 lead on Braden Homsey, who came back with five unanswered points to square the match. Homsey scored two takedowns in the third to win 11-8.
At 195, Orange’s Jamar Davis took down Josh Collura with two seconds remaining in the third period to win 4-3, stunning the Piedmont end of the gym into silence. Wilson followed with a pin to reel off five consecutive Orange victories.
At 170, Orange’s Josiah Ramirez held off Mathis Strickland 3-2 to put Orange ahead 17-15. Charlie Fitzpatrick, normally Orange’s 152-pounder, was bumped up to 160 and earned a 15-4 major decision over Kylan Thomas.
The match opened at 120 with Orange’s Gavin Wiggins earning a 3-1 decision over Jordan Parlmer. At 113, A.J. Gilvary gave Piedmont its first lead of the day with a 23-8 technical fall over Mitchell Lopeman. In a key tossup match, Piedmont’s Michael Flitz defeated Orange’s Baily Hawkins 8-5.
Levi Anderson notched his own technical fall for Orange, beating Connor Polhemis 21-4 to even the match at 8-all. Piedmont’s Mason Fisher earned a 6-1 decision against Orange’s Avery Jenkins.
Matt Price scored Piedmont’s only pin of the day against Orange’s Mario Mandujano in :52.