SPARTA — Alleghany High School hosted the annual gathering of the best 16 wrestlers in each of the 14 weight classes of 1A wrestlers from western North Carolina on Friday and Saturday. Seven tri-county athletes managed to secure positions in this week’s NCHSAA State Championships to be held at the Greensboro Coliseum and one of these seven was a regional champion.
Elkin High School will send five wrestlers to Greensboro following their third place finish in the team standings at the regional tournament. Starmount High School will take two competitors.
The Elkin contingency will be led by Jude Lloyd who repeated this season as the WNCHSAA Regional Champion. Lloyd, a junior, is a two-time state placer who will be returning to Greensboro for a third shot at the title.
Lloyd pinned Logan Smith of North Stokes, Adrian Caro of East Surry and Gage Wiley of Murphy to advance to the finals. He then stymied Robbinsville’s Kolin Guffey, posting a 7-0 decision, to claim the regional title in the 132-pound weight class.
Blake Frye and Juan Anaurio of the Buckin’ Elks also advanced the regional finals. Neither of these athletes were able to capitalize on the opportunity to grab the gold and set their sights on better things for this weekend.
Frye, a 2016 state qualifier during his junior season, pinned Malik Keely of Atkins, Dustin Rector of Alleghany and Ryan Richardson of Mitchell to reach the finals. Frye was then pinned by Justin Riffle in the 152-pound title match.
Anaurio, last year’s regional champion and fourth-place finisher at the states during his junior season, pinned Hayesville’s Tyler Swanger and posted a 9-1 decision over Mount Airy’s John Bennett to ascend to the finals. In one of the best bouts of this round, Anaurio dropped a 3-1 overtime decision to Cody Swangim of Rosman and was forced to settle for second in the 170-pound weight class.
Elkin’s Tyjae Townsend and Ethan Chipman both qualified for the State Championships for the first time. Townsend, a sophomore, placed third in the 113-pound weight class while Chipman, a junior, was fourth at 145.
The Rams of Starmount High School managed to land two slots in the State Championships with two first-time qualifiers. Nik Pardue, a sophomore, placed third in the 132-pound weight class.
Starmount senior Silas Holbrook, who has been eliminated for the past two seasons in the consolation semifinals (known to wrestlers and wrestling fans as the “blood round”), reached the finals in the 182-pound weight class with pins over Jessie Howell of East Wilkes, Cyle Ponchot of Swain County and Slade McTaggert of Murphy. In the finals, he surrendered a 13-5 decision to Mitchell Edwards of East Surry but has visions of better things in this week’s festivities.
1A State Championship wrestling will begin on Friday afternoon in Greensboro and will continue into Saturday.