The Union Pines Wrestling Team competed at the North Carolina High School Athletic Association State Tournament this past weekend and finished as a top ten team in the state for the second year in a row.
This year’s Vikings scored 50.5 team points finishing in 10th place out of 80 teams in the 3A division, whereas last year’s state tournament team was eighth with 48.5 team points.
Coach Gray commented on the tournament, “As a Coaching staff, we are proud of the team overall. We’re scoring more points every year. This year we took eight guys, and six of them scored. If we want to win it, we need to take eight or more guys, get a couple high on the podium and finish with a few more placers.”
This year’s Viking team was a stronger dual team than a tournament team. This season, the Vikings had dual victories over three of the teams that finished ahead of them in the tournament, including the state champion team, Enka, the state runner-up team, Southeast Guilford, and Piedmont. Tournament champion Enka scored 105 points via six placers, and runner-up Southeast Guilford scored 92.5 points with five placers.
Union Pines Senior Jon Ross took fourth place. (Courtesy photo)
The Vikings had three wrestlers score the bulk of the team points by placing in the top six at the tournament.
Leading the team was third place medalist and a junior, Aaron Faison, competing at 138 pounds. Faison won four matches, only dropping a semi-final bout to the eventual champion in his bracket, Heath Gonyer from Northern Guilford.
Jon Ross, a senior, took fourth at 152 pounds, putting him on the shortlist that is Viking two time state placers. Ross was also fourth last year and will move on to compete at VMI (Virginia Military Institute) next year.
Aiden McCafferty, just a sophomore, took sixth place at 160 pounds. With two more years to compete, this gives McCafferty a chance to make the even shorter list of Viking three-time state placers. There have only been two Vikings to place three times, and they are Mike Brennan, placing 2010-2012, and Tony Menozi, 2015-2017.
Johann Diaz, a sophomore, competing at 113 pounds and Colin Pettine, a junior at 170 pounds, both won two matches putting them one win shy of placing. Robert Hyder, another sophomore, won a match at 182 pounds, making him the sixth scoring wrestler for the Vikings at the tournament.
Courtesy feature photo: Third place medalist, Aaron Faison.