Stokes County made a strong statement at the NCHSAA wrestling state championship when seven wrestlers qualified for the competition and two finished with state titles at the Greensboro Coliseum on Saturday.
South Stokes Jackson Boles and Steven Fatz won state championship honors and Cooper Ross placed second. North Stokes Paden Lungrin, a state qualifier for the past four years with an undefeated 33-0 record his senior season, finished fourth. West Stokes Carson Goins battled back from an injury last year to make an impressive march to states and fourth place in the 106 division.
Saura coach Chad Amos said at the beginning of the season, his wrestlers set goals as a team and individually.
“We have great leadership and they push each other. The kids get along well and have chemistry as a team. I would like to thank everyone who came out today. We had great support from a lot of people.”
Boles (145lbs) came into the tournament as the number one seed and ranked first in the state polls. He won his match over Mount Airy’s Armando Estrada (23-13) by pin fall in the second period. In the championship semifinals Boles won a major decision over Neuse Charter’s Alexander Gonzalez (40-7) 12-2. He wrestled Elkin’s Mikey Grubbs (34-10) in the championship finals. He took a 2-0 lead in the first period and then extended it in the second with an escape and another take down. Boles earned a near pin fall with 1:21 left in the match, held on for the 7-0 victory and his first state championship. He finished the season 36-4.
“After last year’s early exit in the regionals, I believe Jackson came in a little more focused and determined,” said Amos. “He worked really hard on technique in the offseason. He is one of those kids that lead by example and he is a great teammate. “
Fatz (160lbs) improved last year’s fifth place finish with a state championship on Saturday. In the quarterfinals he beat Cherokee’s Caden Pheasant (25-12) by pin fall in the second period. Fatz wrestled conference opponent Austin Tumbarello (32-11) from Mount Airy and won a 7-3 decision in the semifinals. In the championship match, he took a 2-0 lead in the first period over Avery County’s Lucas Andrews (35-8). He increased his advantage in the second with a near fall and a reversal in the third for the 6-0 victory. He finished the season 36-7.
“Steven had a taste of the championships last year,” Amos said. “One of his goals was to get back here and win it. He is the nucleus of our team and the serious one.”
Ross (170lbs) made his first state championship finals by qualifying with a fourth place finish in the east regional. He beat number one seed Jerry Neese (33-10) of Elkin on a 2-0 decision. In the semifinals, Ross wrestled number two seed Mason Coble (17-5) of West Montgomery and won 9-5. He wrestled Jacari Deal (36-6) of Voyager Academy and lost 3-0. Deal managed an escape and a reversal in the second period and then rode Ross out for the win. Ross finished the season 27-14.
“Cooper is one of those kids we call a dark horse,” Amos said. “You can’t look at his overall record. He was peaking at the right time and has been wrestling well as of late.”
South had two other wrestlers qualify for the championships with Ricky Gonzales (138lbs) and Kaleb Mitchell (152lbs). Gonzales won the quarterfinals by a forfeit over Mount Airy’s Joan Ramirez (19-5) and then lost to Caleb Bryant (Uwharrie Charter) and Jordan Todd (Rosewood). Mitchell lost both of his matches by pin fall. Payne Anderson (Robbinsville) won in the quarterfinals, while Jerry Jimenez (Uwharrie Charter) beat him in the consolation quarterfinals.
North Stokes Paden Lungrin (220lbs) came into the championships as the number one seed and ranked first in the state with a 33-0 record. In his first match, he pinned Starmount’s Caleb Money (27-9) early in the third period. Eventual champion Will Paul of Swain County beat Lungrin in the championship semifinals 4-3. He came back in the consolation semifinals and won by fall over Darren Williams (North Rowan) in 4:04. In the third place match, he faced Money again and lost 1-0 on an escape in the second period. Lungrin finished his senior season 35-2.
“Paden came in very confident and wrestled well in his first match,” said Viking coach Matthew Wise. “In his semifinal match, he had some opportunities that he couldn’t capitalize on. At this level, kids know how to hold onto a lead. I know he’s not happy with the way his finished, but we are proud of him.”
West Stokes had one representative with Carson Goins at the 106lb weight division. He won his first match on Thursday over R-S Central’s Zack Lewis on a 5-1 decision. Goins beat Hayden Caldwell (Wheatmore) in the quarterfinals 8-2 and advanced to the championship semifinals. He lost a 10-5 decision to Braden Riggs (53-2) of Pisgah and dropped to the consolation semifinals. He beat Lewis again 5-2, but lost to Hunter Ross (44-3) of Central Academy 3-2 and won fourth place. Goins finished 30-4 for the season.
“Carson is one of those kids that when adversity faces, he gets tougher,” said Wildcat coach Mitch Overton. “We always knew his potential and now he has the credentials to go along with it.”
As a team in 1A, South Stokes placed fourth overall and North Stokes was 21st. West Stokes finished 42nd out of 79 in 2A.
Robert Money can be reached at 336-749-1193.