WEST JEFFERSON — North Surry and Surry Central are sending eight wrestlers to the state 2A tournament this week.
The Golden Eagles have five wrestlers who qualified for the championship by placing in the top four at the 2A Midwest Regional this weekend at Ashe County.
The Greyhounds had three wrestlers qualify for state, including two who won their weight classes.
Austin Rozier (126 pounds) and Cody Slate (220) are both conference and regional champions after winning in Sunday’s finals. They each won two matches on Saturday and two on Sunday in the 16-man brackets.
Teammate Devyn Green was third at 170 pounds, going 4-1 over Saturday and Sunday.
Coach Eric Jessup said all three Hounds are going to the Greensboro Coliseum Thursday expecting nothing less than to place in the top four.
Central’s wrestlers had a tougher road to the state tournament. None of them made it to the finals, so they had to keep winning deep into the losers’ bracket to qualify.
“I was really pleased with getting five in, especially with the guys having to fight their way through consolations,” said Coach Stephen Priddy.
Wrestling, especially at this high a level, is as much about the mental aspect as the physical side, Priddy said. It is tough to take an early loss, then turn around a little while later and be emotionally prepared to go again.
For Central, those qualifying for state were Nathon Bautista (106 pounds), Kevin Pack (120), Uriel Secundino (145), Zack Martin (170) and Kaleb Dunn (195).
Nathon and Kevin made it for the third-straight year, while the other three are newcomers, said Priddy.
Nathon has been ranked first in the state for 2A on RetroRankings, according to the coach, and he pinned his first opponent in less than a minute.
Then he lost a close 4-2 decision to Sergio Paz, the eventual second-place finisher.
Still, he bounced back to win two matches and claim third place.
Pack did the same thing, losing his second match (to the eventual champion) and then winning his next two.
Dunn had an even harder road, losing his first match, then having to take three win-or-go-home matches, including a 5-4 win over South Stokes’ Corbin Tackett, the bracket’s second seed.
Priddy said he knew that Kaleb had talent in middle school, but he’s really come a long way in his freshman season.
Dunn is only the second Eagle under Priddy to qualify for state; the other was eventual state champion Wes Brown.
Wes was more athletic, but Kaleb is a more skilled wrestler for the same age, the coach said.
Uriel was exhausted by the end of his matches Sunday, he noted.
Secundino had a great season and went into the tournament with only two losses. One of those came to Justin Todd, the 152-pound 1A regional champion, and the other he later avenged against a kid from McMichael, said Priddy.
However, he ran into a state placer in the second round and lost.
Secundino beat three straight wrestlers in the consolations, the last in overtime.
In the third-place match, he went against the same Robert Johns that beat him on Saturday. This time Johns only had a 4-2 lead late in the match, but Secundino couldn’t mount an offensive.
Martin won two matches before losing to undefeated Shane Hemmings (35-0). Meanwhile, North’s Green was losing to Wilkes Central’s Evan Adams.
Both had to win a match to reach the consolation finals where Green decisioned Martin 7-2.
The Greyhounds had seven wrestlers pick up 25 or more wins this season. Only getting three wrestlers in the state tournament might be seen as a disappointment for a squad that went 25-2 this season.
Jessup doesn’t think this was a letdown. He pointed out what a very difficult region his team was in this season.
Not only is Thomasville one of the best teams in the state, but Surry Central and Wilkes Central are very good this year.
Then Jessup pointed out three teams who were realigned into the Midwest this year and finished in the top 10.
West Wilkes was second (moving up from 1A), South Stokes fourth (up from 1A) Mount Pleasant seventh (moving down from 3A) and Central Academy ninth (1A).
This region was so good that guys who qualified for the state last year will be watching it from the stands this year, according to Jessup.
Four of the top 10 teams came from the Western Piedmont, so that shows how tough the new conference is for wrestling, pointed out Priddy. Carver was only 16th, but had a couple of guys make it to the state tournament, including regional most outstanding wrestler Ribyan McClain (138 pounds).
It was a very long weekend, said Priddy. He said he got back to his hotel at 1:45 a.m. Sunday morning. Then he arrived home around 9 p.m. Sunday.
After a light day Monday, several teams will be practicing together this afternoon.
North Surry is opening its fieldhouse to local schools and expects to see Surry Central, East Surry, South Stokes and Forbush take part.
Team Top 10
1 Thomasville 166.0
2 West Wilkes 119.0
3 North Surry 91.5
4 South Stokes 87.0
5 Wilkes Central 75.5
6 Surry Central 75.0
7 Mt Pleasant 73.5
8 Ashe County 67.0
9 Central Academy 65.0
10 Forbush 64.0
11 North Wilkes 60.0
16 Carver 40.5
19 West Stokes 31.0