Individual winter athletes step up to state competitions

With warmer weather reaching Moore County that means one thing for high school athletes, winter sports are completed. Only one team sport brought a state title to Moore County this winter, but individual athletes would step up to state competition, and some were fortunate enough to bring home hardware.

Making post-season tournaments is a great accomplishment for young athletes and their schools. Once upon a time in Moore County, a school making post-season play was unusual. Over recent years, schools across Moore County have won state titles and consistently found themselves in post-season play. This year’s winter season is no different.

Union Pines High School:

The girls basketball team made the NCHSAA state tournament but was knocked out in the first round against E.E. Smith, 62-21.

Union Pines wrestling won the Eastern championship by defeating Orange County, 37-24, and First Flight, 42-31. Union Pines completed their season as the dual-team state runner-up. They sent five individual wrestlers to the state championship, and Nick Mascolino, weight class 182 pounds, won the state championship. Brock Sullivan, at 160 pounds, won state runner-up. Colton Collins, Jayden Crawford, and Aiden Enright took fourth and sixth place.

Union Pines indoor track and field teams completed five combined team events and had six individual athletes compete at the state championships, and one won a state title. The girls ranked ninth, and the boys ranked 17.

Christian Hackett won the state title for the boys’ high jump. Briana St Louis placed runner-up for the girls’ 55 M dash and fourth in the girls’ triple jump. Also competing in various events were: Jayden Sterling, Ethan Diggs, Nathan Hill, Annika Stark, and Cannon Jahn.

Pinecrest High School:

The boys basketball team was defeated by New Bern High School in the first round of the state playoffs, 70-66. 

The girls basketball team won the conference championship over Scotland, 58-53. They lost the opening round of the state playoffs to Athens Drive, 37-51. 

Pinecrest sent three wrestlers to the first-ever individual girls state championship. Megan Rowland finished as state runner-up in the 107-pound weight class. Jocelyn Mattingly and Saoirse Moler competed in the state championship.

Boys wrestling would have two regional champions, Riley Merchant and Jayden Dobeck, who went to the state championship and returned home as state runners-up.

Indoor track and field competed in one event as a team and sent three individuals to the boys state championship. They placed 17th in the 4×400 M relay. Donovan Brown and Shawn Thomas competed in the triple jump. Zack Gilbertson finished in sixth place for the 1000 M event. Shaun Thomas also competed and finished second in the high jump competition.

Girls bowling won their second state championship in the program’s short history. Boys finished fourth in the state tournament.

North Moore High School:

The boys basketball team made the state tournament but lost the first round to Washington County, 85-30. 

North Moore wrestling sent Nathan Rogers to the individual state championship, where he finished third.


The O’Neal girls basketball team won another Tri-TAC regular season and tournament championship. This mark’s their sixth straight undefeated regular season. They made a run in the state playoffs but were defeated in the final four by Grace Christian in Sanford, 77-35. 

The O’Neal girls didn’t disappoint in swimming, winning yet another conference and state championship.

O’Neal boys swimming competed in the state championship but finished eighth.

Spring sports began, and for high schools, it consists of baseball, softball, boys and girls lacrosse, boys golf, boys tennis, girls soccer, and track and field.

Feature photo: Pinecrest wrestlers. Photo provided by coach Jason Webber.

Sandhills_Sentinel~Written by Sandhills Sentinel Reporter Curtis Self.

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