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Before a high school wrestler can think about winning a state championship, he must first secure an invitation to the state tournament.
That’s what this weekend’s regional tournaments are all about. The top performers in the dozen regionals scheduled Friday and Saturday throughout North Carolina will move on. The rest will go home.
West Brunswick wrestlers will compete in the East 3A Regional at South Central High School near Greenville, while grapplers from South Brunswick and North Brunswick travel to Croatan High School for the East 1A/2A Regional.
At both locations, the competition starts Friday at 5:30 p.m. and resumes Saturday at 10 a.m. The top four finishers in each weight class at each regional will advance to next week’s state championships.
All three county schools figure to have representation at the state tournament.
West Brunswick coach Jimmy Caraway said he hopes to take three to five wrestlers to Winston-Salem.
“I think we should have at least three go to state, but I would like to get five guys,” Caraway said. “I had a goal of three but I upped it to five. We’re just going to keep our fingers crossed and keep working.”
West Brunswick’s best hope for a regional champion may be senior 119-pounder Josh Sergent, a 2007 state qualifier who is 31-1 this season and ranked third in his weight class.
Senior heavyweight Dixon Floyd is a two-time state qualifier who will take a 31-5 record to the regional. He placed fifth in the state as a sophomore and is currently ranked eighth in his class.
Other potential state qualifiers for the Trojans include 103-pound sophomore Dylan Bernier (29-5, ranked 9th in state), 125-pound senior Brian Dillman (24-7) and 160-pound junior Deven Ruane (28-10).
South Brunswick had five individual champions at the recent Waccamaw 1A/2A Conference Tournament who could be a factor at the regional.
They are Jeromy Roundtree at 119 pounds, Charlie Martin at 125, Sammy Roundtree at 130 (ranked fifth in state), Jonathan Marvin at 135 and Rick Logan at heavyweight.
North Brunswick’s conference champions and leading contenders for state tournament berths are Nick Barnes at 140 pounds and Bryant Burton at 215.
Last week, West Brunswick and South Brunswick were eliminated in the first round of the state dual team playoffs.
The Trojans suffered a 39-14 to Havelock in the 3A tournament, while Cardinal Gibbons was a 40-36 winner against South Brunswick in the 2A bracket.
Caraway said West Brunswick put up a good fight against Havelock, which made it to the state semifinals.
“We lost to a really good team,” Caraway said. “I’m not upset with how we wrestled at all. The score doesn’t really indicate how we wrestled. We lost some close matches. We were in every match but three of them.”
The Trojans lost six weight classes by four points or less. Those matches accounted for 18 of Havelock’s points.
Winners for the Trojans were Bernier at 103 pounds, Sergent at 119, Bryan Murdaugh at 152 and Ruane at 160.
A 5-2 decision by Murdaugh and technical fall by Ruane gave West Brunswick an 8-0 lead, but Havelock won the next four bouts to go up 15-8.
Bernier and Sergent won two of the next three weight classes to help the Trojans cut the deficit to 18-14, but the Rams won the final five classes.
West Brunswick 14
103: Bernier (WB) dec. Moody, 4-0; 112: Archer (H) dec. T. Ruane, 5-1; 119: Sergent (WB) dec. Holleman, 8-2; 125: Becton (H) dec. Dillman, 6-2; 130: Newby (H) maj. dec. Boudreau, 9-1; 135: Stone (H) tech. fall Stephens, 17-1; 140: Davis (H) pin Lewis, first period; 145: Sherry (H) dec. DeNardi, 4-0; 152: Murdaugh (WB) dec. Merkel, 5-2; 160: D. Ruane (WB) tech. fall Williams, 15-0; 171: Farren (H) dec. Moreno, 5-3; 189: Wilkins (H) pin Conness, third period; 215: Butler (H) dec. Bowman, 13-11; 285: Millea (H) dec. Floyd, 7-4.