The lone N.C. High School Athletic Association championships still played on school sites are in wrestling’s dual-team tournament, which concludes Saturday.
Orange heads to Monroe to face Piedmont for the 3A title. Carrboro, in its first title match appearance, hosts Newton-Conover in 2A, while Rosewood goes to Robbinsville – a six-hour, one-way trip – for a repeat in 1A.
Cary fell in the 4A semifinals on Thursday after dispatching Riverside in the third round. Defending champ West Forsyth will travel to Wilmington to face Laney for the 4A title.
3A: Orange at Piedmont
Orange (31-0) earned its ninth East regional championship on Thursday night, defeating Gray’s Creek 40-24 in the state semifinals. Orange’s 33-30 regional semifinal win over Swansboro produced the most drama of the night.
Orange trailed 15-12 at the end of six bouts, but rallied to build a 27-18 lead. At 285, Swansboro’s Patrick Peterson led the Panthers’ Daylan Alston 6-4 in the waning seconds of the final period when Peterson went too high on a ride.
Alston took Peterson down and scored the pin with eight seconds remaining, clinching the match.
If Peterson had held on, Orange’s lead would have been trimmed to 27-21 with two matches remaining. One of them would have featured the Pirates’ Nick Butler, the top-ranked 106 wrestler in the state.
Last year, Morehead defeated Orange 31-29 in the second round of the state playoffs in a match that came down to the final individual bout. Alston, then a sophomore, lost to Morehead’s George Blackstone 8-3. Morehead captured the state championship four days later over Enka.
“I just did what I was coached to do,” said Alston. “I learned a lot from last year.”
At 132, Orange junior Bailey Hawkins defeated Jakob Burkett 9-5 to earn his 100th career victory.
Since the NCHSAA created dual team playoffs in 1990, Orange has now won nine in three different classifications. It’s their fifth in 3A.
2A: Newton-Conover at Carrboro (at Northwood)
In the third round, Carrboro (10-2) made easy work of Wheatmore, 50-21, and then defeated Mount Pleasant 31-30 for the East final.
“They wrestled exactly like I expected them to,” said Carrboro head coach DeWitt Driscoll. “They were mistake free and wearing guys out. All the things we practice and train, they did that today.”
Driscoll praised his entire team after the meet, and hopes that this will put more eyes on them.
“It was fantastic to be here in our home gym,” said Driscoll. “These guys deserve that attention and people realizing how hard they work and the talent they have.”
Saturday’s match won’t be in Carrboro however, due to a water main break in Chapel Hill. The championship will take place down the road at Northwood High in Pittsboro.
1A: Rosewood at Robbinsville
Rosewood (42-3) is on the doorstep of repeating as state 1A wrestling duals champion, and the Eagles are making it look easy against very tough opposition.
Jordan Todd, Louis Tortual and Christian Decatur recorded pins while Timothy Decatur won the highest profile bout of the night after the match was clinched in a 54-12 romp over host Voyager Academy in the Eastern Regional finals on Thursday.
“We had a really good performance in the (Voyager) match,” said long-time Rosewood coach Bill Edmundson, whose team will also try to defend its title in the state 1A individual tournament.
Host No. 2 seed Voyager (9-4) had advanced to the final after building a big lead and holding on for a 37-32 victory over South Stanly (20-2) in Thursday’s earlier match. That prevented a rematch between the visiting Rowdy Rebel Bulls and Rosewood, which had ousted them in the third round last season.
Rosewood got pins from Todd – who was state runner-up at 138 last year - at 132, Louis Tortual at 138 and Christian Decatur at 106 in the Voyager match.
“I feel like I was a lot more aggressive,” said the sophomore Todd (42-7). “I had been more passive early in the season. But this was such an important moment for the team I had to pick it up. We just have to keep working hard. I think things are looking good for us as a team, and also in the individuals.”
The last individual match of the final had no bearing on the team outcome, but it proved to be a classic.
At 120, the Eagles’ Timothy Decatur, who won the state title at 106 last season as a freshman and was ranked No. 1 in the state in the weight class, won 5-3 in triple overtime over Voyager’s R.J. Whitt, who was third at 113 last season and is ranked No. 2 in the class.
“I’m looking to repeat,” Timothy Decatur said. “I think our team did great tonight. And we’re set up well for the state championship. Coach gave me a choice as to whether or not I wanted to wrestle (Whitt), and I wanted to see what I could do.”
Rosewood (42-3) beat Uwharrie Charter of Asheboro 39-36 in Thursday’s semifinals.
“I thought we performed pretty well against Uwharrie,” said Cameron Helt (27-5), one of five Rosewood grapplers to win twice on Thursday. “Against Voyager we did an outstanding job. I’m just looking forward to us getting another chance to win a championship.”
Voyager had earned the host spot for the regional by beating East Surry 40-30 in the second round on Tuesday night at Chatham Central. South Stanly routed visiting East Carteret 72-6 in the Tuesday’s second round.
“We exceeded our goals for the year,” Voyager coach Andy Takla said. “They do everything I say day-in and day-out and you can’t ask for more than that.”
NCHSAA dual-team championship
4A: West Forsyth at Laney, 5 p.m.
3A: Orange at Piedmont, 6 p.m.
2A: Newton-Conover at Carrboro, 4 p.m.
1A: Rosewood at Robbinsville, 4 p.m.