As recent years have shown, even the Triangle’s most prestigious high school wrestling programs can go a few years without an individual state champ. But Saturday was about these programs getting back to the top of the podium at the N.C. High School Athletic Association tournament championships in the Greensboro Coliseum.
Cary, who owns 12 NCHSAA team tournament championships, had its first individual champ since 2009 in junior 138-pounder Will Clark.
Thanks to 160-pounder Jaquon Sowell, three-time tournament team champ Durham Riverside had its first individual champion a title since 2010. Four-time tournament team champ Orange, after taking a one-year hiatus from winning gold, saw senior David Peters-Logue complete an undefeated season at 170 pounds.
None of the teams were factors in this season’s team standings – although Cary (third, 4A), Holly Springs (fifth, 4A) and Orange (third, 3A) were top five in their respective classifications – but 1A Chatham Central made sure the greater Triangle area was not shut out as champions. The Bears claimed their first NCHSAA tournament title by edging Mitchell, the team they had fallen to in the 1A dual-team final two weeks earlier.
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Knight earns podium spot: Knightdale’s Brandon Skinner finished fifth in the 4A 170-pound class following a 5-4 decision win over Pinecrest’s Rider Excell. It was revenge for Skinner (Mideast No. 2 seed), who was pinned by Excell (East No. 1) in 2:10 in his second match.
Skinner finished with a 4-2 record to reach the podium.
Brother and teammate Bradley Skinner bowed out with a 1-2 record in the 182-pound class. Skinner (Mideast No. 2 ) opened with a pin of Parkland’s Dathan Bell (Midwest No. 3) in 1:33, but was pinned in 1:55 by South View’s Malik McDonald (East No. 1) in his next bout.
Jack Britt’s Joseph Stevenson (East No. 3) ended Bradley Skinner’s state run with a pin in 1:29.
Knightdale heavyweight Tyler Palochak (Mideast No. 4) went 0-2 in the state tournament after being pinned in 5:47 by North Davidson’s Nicholas Wimmer (Midwest No. 1) in the first round, and then falling in a 6-3 overtime decision against Alex Central’s Lucas St. Clair (West No. 2).
Wimmer went on to claim second place at 285 pounds.
Clark adds to Cary legacy: In last year’s state tournament, Cary junior Will Clark suffered his first loss of the season, which sent him to the third-place match.
He lost just once this season as well, but it wasn’t on this stage. Clark went 49-1 this year, winning the 4A 138-pound title with a 1-0 defeat of Fayetteville Britt’s Brandon Stern.
“It’s still not hit me yet,” Clark said. “I’ve been thinking about this since I was little watching my friends in high school win states... I’m still in shock.”
Clark is also the first champ for coach Taylor Cummings.
Teammate Nick Tarvin (113) was also in a championship, but he lost by pinfall right as the buzzer sounded on the first period.
Barrow gives Wake Forest a champ: Wake Forest’s Nashid Barrow said he had been waiting all his life for this – a celebratory standing backflip – after he had taken the 4A 145-pound title match by a 6-4 score.
“All the work I’ve been doing all summer, it finally paid off. This is all I wanted, just to be a state champ,” Barrow said.
He became the Cougars’ first state champion in more than a decade.
“I was nervous the whole time, but he really had his mind set on the way he wanted to wrestle and I like that in a wrestler,” said coach Sam Hershey. “He made the decision to go (bottom position) in the third period and he rewarded himself with a state championship.”
Sowell takes his title: Sowell said he’s not as good on the top position. But the results say that even though he doesn’t get back points very often, his ability to not let the other wrestler escape is execeptional.
And it’s why Sowell could take his 4A 160-pound opponent into the third period at 0-0 and win 1-0 in the second overtime.
“In my head, I was thinking ‘I’ve worked to hard to come out here to lose,’ ” Sowell said. “In matches against good people, I don’t score many points. So that’s why I have that mindframe where I’m not that good on top.”
Riverside’s last state champion was three-time champ Tyrone Eatmon in 2010.
Campbell, Davis come up short: West Johnston junior Sam Campbell had a costly mistake in his 220-pound 4A championship match, and that was all Parkland’s Thomas Rodriguez needed to pin him in 1 minute, 39 seconds.
He is the second Wildcats wrestler to make it that far in the tournament, and his is the final match that West Johnston’s David Prendergast will coach.
“I loved this season. I loved the kids that were on the team at the end. I tried my best to enjoy this and I think I did,” said Prendergast, who retires with exactly 300 dual-team wins.
Apex junior Chance Davis (120, 4A) lost 9-4 to Parkland’s Drew Turner, who is now a three-time state champion. Davis ends the year 40-6.
Area state third place: Holly Springs’ Aaron Redus (120, 4A), Cary’s Kollin Wade (132, 4A), Holly Springs’ Travian Cooke (160, 4A), Riverside’s Gary Whitaker (285, 4A), Corinth Holders’ Darius Dunn (113, 3A), Jhavonte Moon (145, 3A), Carrboro’s George Carpenter (120, 2A) and Carrboro’s Stephen Dreher (126, 2A), Chatham Central’s Nick Daggett (106, 1A), Rodney Van De Walker (152, 1A) and Casey Canterbury (285, 1A).
Area fourth-place finishers: Leesville Road’s Matt Cesari (152, 4A), Holly Springs’ Austin Galati (170, 4A), Millbrook’s Dillon Dawkins (182, 4A), Broughton’s Roberto Phillips (195, 4A), Southeast Raleigh’s Joshua Mack (285, 4A), Orange’s Byron Stephenson (285, 3A) , Carrboro’s Carson McKay (182, 2A), Chatham Central’s Dalton Robinson (145, 1A) and Princeton’s Jesse Tomljenovich (160, 1A).
Area fifth-place finishers: Holly Springs’ Daniel Richardson (152, 4A), Knightdale’s Brandon Skinner (170, 4A), Northern Durham’s Atavion Oliver (182, 4A), Wake Forest’s Brinson Allen (285, 4A) and Orange’s Collin Smith (138, 3A).
Area sixth-place finishers: Sanderson’s Adam DeRose (113, 4A), Heritage’s Anthony Brito (126, 4A), Panther Creek’s Matt Powell (220, 4A) and South Granville’s Nathan Castillo (113, 2A) .