SPARTA — On the mats, Mount Airy’s wrestling team was just one point shy of eventually 1A state dual-team champion Robbinsville when the teams met in the playoffs 10 days ago.
However, the Granite Bears’ dreams of a state title were merely postponed, and are still very much alive as the team gets ready for a trip to the state individual duals in Greensboro on Feb. 17 and 18 at the Greensboro Coliseum.
The two-day West Regional tournament at Alleghany High School made it clear that Mount Airy, which spent most of the season as the state’s second-ranked 1A team, will be a strong contender for the team title in Greensboro. The Bears qualified nine of their 13 wrestlers for the state finals, with Jacob Hogue (126) and Dakoda Smith (195) taking first place at the regional. Teammates Barron Pilson (106) and Chris Butera (145) placed second and third overall, respectively. Other Bears who will wrestle on include Daniel Olvera (fourth at 113), Luis Osorno (fourth at 120), Joan Ramirez (fourth at 132), John Bennett (fourth at 170), and Eric Olvera (fourth at 182).
The Bears won’t be the only local team represented in the 1A championships. East Surry’s Mitchell Edwards won the 182-pound regional crown, while Morgan East placed fourth and also punched his ticket to Greensboro.
In the 2A Midwest Regional held at West Wilkes High School, Surry Central’s Kaleb Dunn kept his perfect 2016-17 season alive by winning his second straight regional title. Dunn will head to Greensboro with a perfect 30-0 record for the season. Teammate David Peña finished second at 285, and Casey Hutchens also qualified for the state finals with a fourth place finish at 106.
Peña, who is considered a title contender as well, missed the regional title by the narrowest of margins. In the championship match against Dustin Barnhardt of Mt. Pleasant High School, who entered the regional ranked eighth in the state, third-ranked Peña was edged 4-3 in double overtime.
North Surry also qualified three wrestlers for Greensboro. The Hounds will be represneted by Reid Walker (fourth at 120), Quinn Walker (fourth at 126) and Sammy McMillian (fourth at 160),