High School Sports

Union Pines wrestling program, now led by Joey Farnsworth, getting stronger

Union Pines' Alex Faison backflips after winning 3A 152 title

The Vikings' first state champion as a junior celebrated in style.
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The Vikings' first state champion as a junior celebrated in style.

As Alex Faison ran up the stairs of the Greensboro Coliseum and back down again, Union Pines coach Joey Farnsworth didn’t have to switch chairs. Together, it was a sign of new heights for the wrestling program.

Not until last week’s N.C. High School Athletic Association 3A championships had the program ever had a junior win a state title. Despite finishing runner-up in 2011 and 2012 as a team, the Vikings had never had two champions in the same year.

That almost happened as well.

Faison (28-6), in only his third year of wrestling, took down Piedmont’s Matt Price (52-2) 6-5 for the 152-pound title. He backflipped in celebration.

“He’s always moving, constantly trying to push the pace of his match,” Farnsworth said. “You see it on his face when he’s in there warming up – there’s no one in this room that can beat him, that’s his whole mentality. That’s what pushed him to the top.”

Faison studied Price to see what his strengths were, then made sure to avoid them.

“I knew I could outlast him and work harder than him,” Faison said.

As Farnsworth stayed in the same spot, Faison scrambled upstairs and back to watch Parker Holcomb (23-4) go for the 160-pound title. Holcomb lost 9-2 to Hibriten’s Hayden Wyke. Tony Menozi was third in the 145-pound group.

Faison has a chance for another program first: The Vikings have never had a two-time champ.

“It just makes me want to work harder,” he said.

Farnsworth was a national champ at Cary and is in his second year with the Vikings, and he’s set up for more successes like this year. About a decade ago, the Moore County school began building a program with lots of offseason work.

“We’ve got such a great wrestling family,” Farnsworth said. “Everyone jumps in when we need some help.”