The Pinecrest wrestling team, led by five underclassmen and three upperclassmen, and coming of a regional championship, placed 11th at the state 4-A individual tournament in Greensboro last weekend.

The Patriots ended the season ranked fifth in the NCHSAA 4-A classification. This is the highest ranking and state placement achieved by the Patriots in a number of years.

Patriot freshman Jayden Dobeck led all Pinecrest wrestlers earning a state runner-up podium finish at 145 pounds.  Dobeck’s march to the podium was clearly one of the toughest brackets to overcome.

In his first match Dobeck beat the fourth-ranked wrestler and in the second round he defeated the ninth-ranked wrestler.  Dobeck’s most thrilling match came in the semifinals where he defeated the second-ranked wrestler, Toure Moore from Grimsley High School, on a last second move to secure the win.

“Despite falling to the top-ranked wrestler in the state finals, Kia Paxton of Middle Creek, Dobeck wrestled amazingly all weekend and all year,” said Patriot head coach Bob Curtin. “We are so proud of him.”

Matt Rowland, a sophomore, the Patriots other standout wrestler, remained atop the podium for the second straight year as he finished the tournament placing fifth in arguably one of the toughest weight classes of the tournament.

Rowland also defeated three top-10 ranked wrestlers. Rowland’s best match was perhaps the one in defeat against All-American and defending state champ Rich Trainor of Hough High School.

After the highly contested quarterfinal match Rowland rebounded and secured his second consecutive NCHSAA state place on the podium.

Other Patriot state qualifiers who excelled and secured team points were Will Nguyen, Hunter Hillis, Gavin Millard and Chase Godwin.

After early-round wins, Nguyen, Millard, and Godwin dominated the consolation rounds only to come up short of the podium. For Nguyen it was his final chance to place.

“We are extremely proud of the way he has led our team,” Curtin said.

Heartbreaking was the injury to Hunter Hillis, who had dominated two top-five state placers only to sustain a season-ending injury and thus defaulting from the competition shortly after the quarterfinals.

“He has been a work horse and a young man that showed incredibly growth over the season,” said Patriot assistant coach Josh Millard.  

“We are really proud of each and every one of our state qualifiers—most of whom are underclassmen,” said Curtin. “Their success was possible through hard work and great peer leadership. The team finished the year with a 19-1 record and a fifth-place ranking in the state.

“This is not where we thought we would be but we plan to make improvements in the offseason with the introduction of our rising middle school freshmen, as well as growing our staff to be more efficient and technically precise with all our kids.”

The Patriots will be in action March 27-29 for the National Invitational Tournament and May 22-23 in Virginia Beach for the National Duals.

Contact Pinecrest High School or Curtin (  to get your son or daughter involved with and into Pinecrest wrestling.

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