GREENSBORO — As recent years have shown, even the Triangle’s most prestigious high school wrestling programs can go a few years without an individual state champ. Entering Saturday’s N.C. High School Athletic Association tournament championships at the Greensboro Coliseum, Cary’s last individual champion was in 2009.
But the drought is over.
Junior Will Clark put the Imps back at the top of the podium by taking the 138-pound 4A title.
“It’s still not hit me yet,” Clark said. “I’ve been thinking about this since I was little watching my friends in high school win states... I’m still in shock.”
Last season, Clark was unbeaten going into the tournament but lost in the semifinals. He took third overall with a 55-1 season mark.
“I picked a better time to get my first loss,” Clark said, completing this season with a 49-1 record.
Clark’s opponent was Fayetteville Jack Britt’s Brandon Stern. The two had missed each other when their teams met in the dual-team playoffs because Clark was injured.
Clark stayed low on Stern, who had much longer arms, to prevent a first period takedown. The two were scoreless until Clark esacped in the second period for a 1-0 lead. Stern was in the bottom position in the third period, where he couldn’t get out of the grasp of Clark.
Stern lost 1-0, and Clark became the first individual champ for coach Taylor Cummings.
“Will just wrestled a hard-nosed match and was smart – and it’s hard to do both,” Cummings said. “Will was just knocking on this door a little too long.”
Cary teammate Nick Tarvin (113) was also in a championship, but he lost by pinfall right as the buzzer sounded on the first period to three-time state champon Drew Turner of Winston-Salem Parkland. Tarvin, who had seven losses in the regular season, ended his senior year on a hot streak.
Cary was third in the 4A championships. Sophomore Kollin Wade (third, 132) was the only other state placer.
Apex junior Chance Davis (120) nearly gave the Cougars their second state champ in as many seasons, but he lost 9-4 to Jack Britt’s Richard Tolston in the final. Davis ends the year 40-6 overall.
Holly Springs was fifth in the state championships thanks to third-place finishes from senior Aaron Redus (120) and junior Travian Cooke (160) as well as a fourth-place finish from senior Austin Galati (170) and a fifth-place finish from Daniel Richardson (152).
Panther Creek senior Matt Powell was sixth in the 220-pound division.
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps