A bevy of talented, local wrestlers converged upon West Johnston High on Sunday in the 4A Mideast Regional with their eyes set on earning a spot in the upcoming week’s NCHSAA wrestling championships.
Southwest Wake 4A rivals Holly Springs and Cary led the way with each sending eight wrestlers to compete for state titles. The Golden Hawks edged the Imps 181-178 in the team standings.
Austin Galati proved to be the class of the 170-pound weight division as the Holly Springs senior took care of Knightdale’s Brandon Skinner in the final 10-2.
The Golden Hawks’ Travian Cooke (160), Aaron Redus (120) Daniel Richardson (152) joined Galati as champions in their respective weight classes.
Redus needed a last-second pin against Apex’s Chance Davis to come away victorious.
“I felt his hips drop a little, and I just kind of bumped mine out and rolled through it – which is exactly what he did to me earlier in the match,” Redus said. “I’m glad how it ended.”
Other Golden Hawks advancing to the state championships were: Cam Devers (138), Nick Connorchic (145), Josh Richardson (182) and Charles Toogood (220).
Cary also had several wrestlers who dominated. Will Clark (138), Parker Ragsdale (126) and Kollin Wade (132) all steam-rolled their way to championship finishes.
For the Imps, their eyes are firmly directed to fortune in the state finals at the Greensboro Coliseum starting Thursday.
“It’s not so much about winning; it’s about putting myself into position for next week,” Ragsdale said. “I just want to keep building off of it and get that No. 1 seed to give me an easier route to the finals.”
Cary’s Ian Anderson (106), Javon Jarrett (285), Mark Mulligan (160), Nick Tarvin (113) and Alex Zuniga (170) also all placed among the top four of their divisions to earn a place in the state 4A competition.
Sanderson, despite not having any wrestler take home the top prize, finished third thanks to eight wrestlers earning state championships berths.
Sanderson’sAdam De Rose finished runner-up, and the Spartans’ Marquise Bowens (138), Antwuan Elliott (220), Christopher Grannan (195), Said Al-Hammami (152), David Losada (132) and Crayton Saby (106) also qualified.
West Johnston came in fourth place behind strong showings from Sam Campbell (220) and Tony Jimenez (106) who won their respective division titles.
Down a point in the third period of his match against Panther Creek’s Matthew Powell, Campbell dug deep to get the win via pin.
“Really, it’s all about finishing,” Campbell said. “Every single day it is repeat, repeat, repeat and you’ve just got to find a way to finish.”
Other Wildcats advancing were Brian Crutchfield (138), George Nathaniel (160), and Raheem Simmons (126).
Wake Forest saw two wrestlers take home regional titles.
Nick Mutio held off De Rose 3-2 in the 113 championship.
“It was tough match,” Mutio said. “I lost to him at the conference match the last match of the year, so I just wanted see him the regional finals. I leaned from my last match, came back and wrestled hard the whole time.”
The Cougars’ Nashid Barrow, named most outstanding wrestler of the tournament, pinned Apex’s Daniel Krakowski to take home the 145 crown.
“I feel like I’ve been wrestling pretty good,” Barrow said. “Winning this tournament sets my goals high for states.”
Millbrook’s Dillon Dawkins completed his comeback from a high school career riddled with injuries to best Knightdale’s Bradley Skinner in the 182 final.
“This year, I’ve worked hard enough to get back into that top group,” he said. “I know it’s going to be real hard (this week) but I think I can match up well with some of the top guys.”
Green Hope’s Ian Callahan completed his impressive, unbeaten run through regionals with a first-period pin against Broughton’s Roberto Phillips in the 195 final.
“It’s a sigh of relief, but this isn’t what I want,” said Callahan, who finished fourth two years ago. “I won’t be satisfied until I get a state championship.”
Callahan will be joined at state by teammate Michael Eastwood.
In the heavyweight division, it took Southeast Raleigh’s Joshua Mack three overtimes to defeat Wake Forest’s Brinson Allen.
“It was pretty much will power,” Mack said. “I just want to thank my coach for conditioning, pain and suffering he put me through to help me win that match.”