Three Local Grapplers Place in States
It's the big dance for high school wrestling. It's the season finale that's every wrestler's goal. It's the North Carolina High School Athletic Association State Wrestling Championships.
The 2008 tournament brought 672 contestants under one roof at the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum last weekend in Winston-Salem for two days of competition to determine state champions in 14 weight classes in 1-A/2-A, 3-A and 4-A divisions.
Participants qualified in regional tournaments held across the state the previous weekend, with top four finishers in each weight class earning "state qualifier" status.
Local wrestlers brought home a share of the prizes with a pair of fourth-place finishes and a fifth-place prize.
Union Pines' Trey Weliver got the short end of a 11-6 decision in the opening round against ultimate state champion Dylan Cala from Southpoint High School but battled back through the consolation rounds to claim fourth place in the 3-A 125-pound weight class.
Weliver started the climb back to the consolation finals by bumping off West Brunswick's Brian Dillman 5-0, then followed up with a 7-4 decision over Asheboro's Demetrice Fonville and a 6-5 win over Comaldy Becton of Havelock to reach the consolation semifinals.
A 6-3 margin over Luke Dutch from Northwest Cabarrus put Weliver in the consolation finals, where the final outcome was decided in a tight 4-2 overtime loss to Ragsdale's Brandon Hodges that earned Weliver fourth-place honors and boosted his season standing to 50-11.
For Pinecrest sophomore Zane Excell it was the first trip to the state tournament, and likely will not be his last. Excell pinned his way into the 125-pound championship semifinals, taking East Forsyth's Colton Serilli in 1:15 and flattening Riverside's Andrew Tyndall in 3:37.
In the semifinals, Excell went head-to-head with Chapel Hill's Corey Mock, a two-time state champion who would go on to claim title No. 3 after sending Excell to the consolation round on a second-period pin.
Excell rebounded in the next match with a 14-6 major decision over Davie County's Travis Goforth, then finished in fourth place after a 5-1 loss to New Bern's Jeremy Althizer that closed his season at 44-14.
Union Pines senior Tony Fernandez capped his high school wrestling career with a fifth-place finish, advancing into the championship quarter finals with a 16-0 technical fall over South Point senior Kyle Haney, then making a turn into the consolation side of the 145-pound bracket after a narrow 3-2 loss to Parkland's Lanard Oglesby.
Fernandez picked up a pair of pins with wins over Washington's Bryant Gardner and Nash Central's Jasmine Cooper to move into the consolation semifinals where he detoured into the fifth-place final after dropping a 4-2 decision to Ragsdale's Blair Fewell.
In the closer, Fernandez met Haney for a rematch of the first round, with fifth place on the line in this meeting. Fernandez showed that history does repeat itself as he took the Southpoint wrestler by a 9-2 decision to claimed the No. 5 position. Fernandez's overall record is 57-8.
Other area wrestlers who competed included Pinecrest 125-pounder Kevin Brown, Union Pines 112-pounder Brandon Berry and Viking 215-pounder Kaleb Rierson.
Brown, a runner up at 112 in last year's tourney, majored East Burke's B.J. Tomlin in the first round, then took a double blow in an 8-4 loss to Chapel Hill's Ian Coggin, followed by a 4-2 loss to Cary's Cordale Risk that ended his tournament hopes and completed his season with a 45-8 mark.
A 12-0 major decision by Nash Central's Jacob Robinson sent Berry to the consolation round early, but Berry stayed alive with a 15-9 win over Carson's Nick Golden. Berry retired in the next round after catching the receiving end of a 4:39 pinfall from Northeast Guilford's Will Mesar. Berry finishes with a 35-23 record.
Rierson ran into trouble in the first round, falling to Lake Norman's Jacob McNeill by fall at 5:45. An 11-5 overtime win against Foy Coley of Eastern Wayne advanced Rierson into the second round of consolation where the run ended on a 12-1 major decision loss to Kenneth Lindsay of Southern Lee. Rierson wraps up the season at 47-11.
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