UNIONVILLE — The Piedmont High wrestling program dominated the 3A Midwest Regional at home Wednesday. The Panthers scored 153 points and won the individual team title. Piedmont is sending six wrestlers to the 3A state tournament at Eastern Guilford High School on June 26.
Panthers who qualified include: 120-pounder Jake Cauble (32-2), 126-pounder Tripp Collins (33-0), 145-pounder Colby Locklear (29-3), 160-pounder John Lewis (30-4), 195-pounder Jerrett Rayfield (26-3), and 220-pounder Ryan Whetzel (31-3). Collins and Locklear were regional champs.
“We won a regional championship today, and that was the next goal,” Piedmont head coach Jamie Belk said. “We felt like we could have done well in the dual team playoffs (this Spring), but that wasn’t the case. That wasn’t meant to be and I believe that everything happens for a reason. Our next goal is that we are sending seven wrestlers to (the state tournament) next Saturday in pursuit of another individual team state title.”
Among the highlights of the day was when Collins went up against defending state champion Marcus Jackson (19-2), a junior at Central Cabarrus, in the 126-weight class. In the third period, Collins went for Jackson’s legs and held him until the whistle blew and earned a 5-3 decision win to stay unbeaten this Spring.
Collins is a two-time defending state champion.
“You had two state champions going after it just battling it out,” Belk said. “Neither one was going to give an inch. This time, we were fortunate enough to come out on top. We’re going to see (Jackson) again in 10 days, and so our goal for the next 10 days is to keep preparing for that. We gave him a different look, and we showed him that we got more in the tank. We’re not satisfied with that win, and we want to keep pursuing the next goal.”
The top four finishers in each weight class qualify for the state tournament.
Parkwood had two wrestlers place second in the tournament — junior 138-pounder Caleb Simpson (30-2) and junior 285-pounder Cody Hardy (21-1).
Weddington also had two wrestlers qualify for the state tournament — junior 138-pounder Devin King (22-2) and junior 195-pounder Janyd Houghton (27-3).
The only wrestler from Sun Valley who qualified for the state tournament was junior 220-pounder Andrew Macchiavello (17-0), who won his weight class.
Macchiavello is the younger brother of former Sun Valley star Michael Macchiavello), who won a national championship while at N.C. State. Andrew won all of his matches by pins and pinned Whetzel in the final.