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Avery High Again Dominates in State Wrestling Championships With 5 Individual Champions

The Avery County High Wrestling Team won the school’s first state championships in its 51-year history this month. The Vikings claimed five state individual champions, two state individual runners-up, one third place championship finisher and an over-all team title at the North Carolina High School Athletics Association Finals on February 22 and also won the 1-A dual-meet championship on February 8. Both championship series were held in Greensboro.

By Tim Gardner

     It wasn’t if Avery High would win the team title at the North Carolina High School Athletics Association State Wrestling Meet last weekend at the Greensboro Coliseum. It was just by how wide a margin the Vikings would dominate.

   They had five state individual champions, two state individual runners-up, one third place championship finisher and an over-all team title, which provide evidence of how much Avery overpowered the tournament field.

     Avery had seven wrestlers competing in 1-A classification’s individual final bouts February 22 and the rather impressive five state champions propelled the Vikings to secure their second state team title this month.

     Avery compiled a final total of 157.5 points, way ahead of the second place in the 1-A team rankings, Uwharrie Charter, which finished with 116 points.

     The Vikings had already won the 1-A dual-meet championship on February 8, the first team title for any sport in the school’s 51-year history.

     Ethan Shell (120-pound division), River Griffith (132), Seth Blackledge (160), Lucas Andrews (182) and Levi Andrews (220) all took the gold back to Avery County.

     Shell beat Mitchell High’s Dylan Lowery in the 120-pound final.

     Griffith, a senior, won 60 of 62 matches for the season while claiming his third straight NCHSAA title in a win over Polk County’s Preston Burnett. He finishes his high school career with an over-all record of 205-15.

     “It’s pretty cool to win this thing three times and even cooler when you have seven guys from our team in the finals,” Griffith said to the press. “Everybody knew how good this team could be. This is the team everyone has been waiting for. Hopefully we can keep this going for more years.”

     Levi Andrews repeated as the 220-pound state champion, defeating East Lincoln’s Grayson Cannon in the finals. Andrews finished the season with a sterling 53-4 record.


Final Results Involving Avery High Wrestlers-


1-A 106

Final Places

1st Place – Heaven Fitch of Unharried Charter

2nd Place – Luke Wilson of Robbinsville

3rd Place – Hunter Fulp of North Stokes

4th Place – Brandon Ropp of Rosman


1A 120

Final Places

1st Place – Ethan Shell of Avery County

2nd Place – Dylan Lowery of Mitchell

3rd Place – Ricardo Bustos of Albemarle

4th Place – Satchel McCoy of Polk County

1st Place Match

Ethan Shell (Avery County, 58-3, So.) over Dylan Lowery (Mitchell, 23-3, Sr.) (Dec. 7-0)

3rd Place Match

Ricardo Bustos (Albemarle, 29-9, So.) over Satchel McCoy (Polk County, 34-17, So.) (Fall 2:41)


1A 126

Final Places

1st Place – Jonas Trejo of Swain County

2nd Place – Chandler Steel of Chatham Charter

3rd Place – Jonah Hayes of Avery County

4th Place – Jayden Nowell of Robbinsville

1st Place Match

Jonas Trejo (Swain County, 38-8, Sr.) over Chandler Steel (Chatham Charter, 30-6, Jr.) (Fall 1:31)

3rd Place Match

Jonah Hayes (Avery County, 49-9, Jr.) over Jayden Nowell (Robbinsville, 34-7, So.) (SV-1 4-2)


1A 132

Final Places

1st Place – River Griffith of Avery County

2nd Place – Preston Burnett of Polk County

3rd Place – Renfere Garcia of South Stanly

4th Place – Ryan Riffle of Cherryville

1st Place Match

River Griffith (Avery County, 62-2, Sr.) over Preston Burnett (Polk County, 44-11, Sr.) (Fall 1:16)

3rd Place Match

Renfere Garcia (South Stanly, 35-13, Fr.) over Ryan Riffle (Cherryville, 33-20, Jr.) (Dec 2-1)


1A 152

Final Places

1st Place – Jerry Jimenez of Uwharrie Charter

2nd Place – Bradley Parker of Avery County

3rd Place – Alexander Suszko of Lejeune

4th Place – Hunter Barrier of South Stanly

1st Place Match

Jerry Jimenez (Uwharrie Charter, 57-3, Sr.) over Bradley Parker (Avery County, 37-8, So.) (Dec 8-4)

3rd Place Match

Alexander Suszko (Lejeune, 22-3, So.) over Hunter Barrier (South Stanly, 48-11, Jr.) (Fall 1:58)


1A 160

Final Places

1st Place – Seth Blackledge of Avery County

2nd Place – Dustin Blackburn of East Wilkes

3rd Place – Doug Bowles of Uwharrie Charter

4th Place – Justin Stewart of Robbinsville

1st Place Match

Seth Blackledge (Avery County, 27-9, Fr.) over Dustin Blackburn (East Wilkes, 42-6, Sr.) (Dec 12-5)

3rd Place Match

Doug Bowles (Uwharrie Charter, 44-6, So.) over Justin Stewart (Robbinsville, 25-4, Sr.) (Dec 8-4)


1A 170

Final Places

1st Place – Jackson Boles of South Stokes

2nd Place – Dalton Towe of Avery County

3rd Place – Dustin Rector of Alleghany

4th Place – Jathan Parker of East Carteret

1st Place Match

Jackson Boles (South Stokes, 44-0, Sr.) over Dalton Towe (Avery County, 51-14, Jr.) (Fall 1:51)

3rd Place Match

Dustin Rector (Alleghany, 48-6, Sr.) over Jathan Parker (East Carteret, 49-11, Jr.) (Fall 2:28)


1A 182

Final Places

1st Place – Lucas Andrews of Avery County

2nd Place – Wesley Sharpe of Voyager

3rd Place – Daniel Cancro of Bishop McGuinness

4th Place – Jaime Bernal of Uwharrie Charter

1st Place Match

Lucas Andrews (Avery County, 60-4, Sr.) over Wesley Sharpe (Voyager Academy, 21-6, Sr.) (Dec 4-1)

3rd Place Match

Daniel Cancro (Bishop McGuinness, 40-9, Jr.) over Jaime Bernal (Uwharrie Charter, 53-8, Sr.) (Fall 2:02)


1A 220

Final Places

1st Place – Levi Andrews of Avery County

2nd Place – Sergio Saldana of Uwharrie Charter

3rd Place – Eric Olvera of Mount Airy

4th Place – Tony Rogers of South Stanly

1st Place Match

Levi Andrews (Avery County, 53-4, So.) over Sergio Saldana (Uwharrie Charter, 59-4, Sr.) (Fall 5:32)

3rd Place Match

Eric Olvera (Mount Airy, 36-5, Sr.) over Tony Rogers (South Stanly, 37-9, Jr.) (Dec 12-6)