The Class 1A West and 2A Midwest individual wrestling regionals were moved back a day because of inclement weather, affecting all four Surry County teams.
Mount Airy and East Surry will compete at the 1A West regional, held at Robbinsville High School, while North Surry and Surry Central head to Ashe County High School for the 2A Midwest regional. Action gets under way at both sites at 2 p.m. today and is scheduled to resume on Sunday at 1 p.m.
The Bears, coming off a conference regular season and tournament championship, have 11 wrestlers competing this weekend. Coach Steve Braune said the team was planning to leave for Robbinsville, a 250-mile drive, Friday afternoon.
“I talked to coach (Todd) Odom, Robbinsville’s head coach. They are more prepared for weather up there. Their roads are fine, hotels are open, and everybody is ready to go,” Braune said. “He would have liked to move it back another day but he couldn’t because it affects all sports, including basketball.”
At regionals, the top four wrestlers in each weight class qualify for the state championships. Mount Airy has two wrestlers who come into this weekend as No. 1 seeds, freshman Jacob Hogue at 106 pounds, and junior Triston Mabry at 152 pounds. Hogue is 40-3 on the season and Mabry 41-4.
Junior Landon Mumford (172 pounds, 38-4 record) and senior Brian Bennett (heavyweight, 20-9 record) are No 2 seeds. Four of the Bears’ wrestlers are seeded fourth in their respective weight classes, including senior Jackson Blizzard, who is 36-7 on the season. Junior Shay Wilson (28-4) is seeded fourth in what Braune said is a very competitive weight class at 145 pounds, as well as sophomore Cameron Pack (28-11 at 160) and junior Felipe Chavez (13-3 at 182).
Rounding out the Mount Airy qualifiers are sophomore Chandler Snyder (18-10) at 126 pounds (No. 6 seed), sophomore Kenyon Smith (26-17) at 138 pounds (No. 10 seed) and freshman Dakota Smith at 220 pounds (No. 10 seed).
Winter weather, which brought more than a foot of snow to Mount Airy and surrounding areas Wednesday and Thursday, has forced wrestlers to work out on their own leading up to regionals. Braune said the last time the Bears were able to practice as a team was Monday.
Since teams statewide haven’t been able to practice much this week, wrestlers have had to stay on top of their diet on their own to ensure they make weight.
Braune is confident his guys will put together a strong showing this weekend. He said the regional team title could come down to Mount Airy and Mitchell, this year’s 1A dual-team champion. Robbinsville also will be a factor.
“Top to bottom we are solid,” said Braune. “We’d like to finish top two in the region. All our guys in the top four, we expect to finish in the top four.”
The Bears have two wrestlers in the mix who were state qualifiers a year ago — Wilson and Mabry. Blizzard just missed out on the state meet last year, but he did qualify his freshman and sophomore years.
East Surry also made the long trek to the Smoky Mountains on Friday afternoon. Coach Darrin Haywood could not immediately be reached for comment. The 1A West region includes teams from the Northwest, Western Highlands, Southern Piedmont, Mountain Valley, Smoky Mountain and Yadkin Valley Conference.
North Surry and Surry Central have a handful of wrestlers competing at Ashe County this weekend.
Junior Corbin Bullins (26-6) at 182 pounds and junior Cody Slate (34-2) at 220 pounds both earned No. 1 seeds for the Western Piedmont Conference champion Greyhounds. Junior Austin Rozier, who is 33-3 on the season, is a No. 2 seed at 126 pounds. Junior Devyn Green is No. 3 at 170 pounds. He has a record of 31-5. Sophomore Austin McBride (20-6) is seeded fourth at 160 pounds.
Also qualifying for North were junior Saige Wolfe at 113 (25-10, No. 5), junior Cesar Cardosa at 106 (16-8, No. 6), sophomore Austin Akers at heavyweight (25-11, No. 6), junior Jacob Humphries at 120 (18-5, No. 9), sophomore Jacob Cavenaugh at 132 (19-10, No. 9), sophomore Joseph Simpson at 195 (7-8, No. 11), and senior Zacch Gregory at 138 (31-7, No. 12).
North coach Eric Jessup said his team held its last practice on Monday.
“I try to keep in touch with them, check on their weight, make sure they are eating right, try to encourage them,” Jessup said. “I told them to get out and run in the snow a little, stay active, shovel some snow, anything to get the blood moving and muscles moving.”
North has two returning state qualifiers, Wolfe and Rozier.
Anyone who comes out of the Midwest region will certainly be battle-tested. Since the latest realignment, the region boasts some strong wrestling schools, including conference newcomer West Wilkes, a perennial 1A powerhouse, North Wilkes, Monroe, Mount Pleasant and Central Academy. On top of that, Jessup said you have tough teams like Thomasville, Ashe County, Salisbury and Surry Central.
“It’s an exciting time of year if you are a wrestler,” Jessup said. “You get that one big opportunity to punch a ticket to the big show. If you want to wrestle in the coliseum next weekend, you have to qualify this weekend. If you are not excited right now, you might be in the wrong sport.
“Hopefully our guys have prepared well and they’ll be ready for that challenge this weekend.”
The Golden Eagles have one wrestler seeded No. 1, senior Nathon Bautista in the 106-pound weight class. Bautista, who comes in with a 25-2 record, will be looking to qualify for the state meet for the third straight year. He went 2-2 at the state championship meet in 2013. Senior Kevin Pack also has made it to the state meet the last two years. Pack qualified third at 120 pounds with a 30-5 record and junior Uriel Secundino was also third at 145 with a record of 34-2.
Other regional qualifiers for Central were junior Zack Martin at 170 (28-6, No. 5), freshman Kaleb Dunn at 195 (24-8, No. 5), sophomore David Pena at heavyweight (19-9, No. 7), junior Ben Robertson at 132 (11-11, No. 12), senior Tyler White at 160 (12-15, No. 12), junior Austin Darlington at 126 (7-10, No. 13), and freshman Chase Boone at 152 (10-18, No. 16).
Coach Stephen Priddy of Surry Central said Thomasville looks like the top team in the Midwest region, and that North Surry should be in the mix also. Priddy said that he hasn’t seen anyone on the team since Tuesday because of the weather, but he has been able to keep in touch.
“I’m excited for everybody,” Priddy said. “Nathon and Kevin have worked extremely hard for four years. Tyler White has come a long way his senior year at regionals. Uriel and Zack Martin, both as juniors looking for that first ticket to get punched to the state tournament. We’ve got two freshman with an outside shot, Kaleb and David. (Today) will be exciting.”
North and Central will head up to West Jefferson today. Also competing in the 2A Midwest region are schools from the Central Carolina, Rocky River and Mountain Valley Conference.
The state wrestling championships are Feb. 20-22 at the Greensboro Coliseum.