Prep Wrestling: Salisbury’s Figueroa second in state
By David Shaw
WINSTON-SALEM ó With a chance to become Salisbury’s fourth consecutive 1A/2A state wrestling champion, Joseph Figueroa had his pocket picked on Saturday.
The 130-pound junior suffered a 12-5 final-round loss to Orange High School’s James Norman at Joel Coliseum.
“I wanted to keep the streak going,” Figueroa said after finishing the season with a 37-7 record. “But it was an amazing experience, from not qualifying last year to second in the states here. I thank my coaches for that.”
Salisbury coach Todd Allen extended a different record. He’s had a wrestler place in the state meet in each of his six seasons on the job and claimed champions in heavyweight Gordon Witte (2006, 2007) and Will Mowery last winter.
Figueroa won his first three matches before falling behind Norman (51-11 with 163 career wins) 6-0 after two periods.
“He’s a great mat wrestler,” Figueroa said. “But I messed myself up. I put myself in bad situations and started taking bad shots.”
Norman made effective use of the out-of-bounds lines. “He used it to his strength,” said Figueroa. “He stayed out on the edge so whenever I did get a good shot in, he’d go out. He wrestled smart.”
Figueroa remains the leading candidate to win the Dutch Meyer Award, given annually to Rowan County’s top grappler.
Davie County junior Zack Vernon was the area’s only state champ. He cleared the room in the 4A, 130-pound weight class, stopping South View’s Zachary Barkett 9-6 in the final.
“It was harder than I thought it would be,” said Vernon, 57-5 this season. “I majored the guy earlier in the season. But he came out harder than the last time.”
Davie coach Buddy Lowery said Vernon likes a good challenge.
“When he’s in a bad position, he’s as comfortable as a bug in a rug,” he said. “He doesn’t panic. He just goes with the flow.”
Davie’s other two finalists were each defeated. At 112 sophomore Michael Waters fell behind early and never caught up in a 14-1 loss to Kyle Narburgh of Jack Britt.
“He beat me because he’s a better wrestler,” said Waters, whose next victory will be the 100th of his career. “I’m gonna remember how this feels and use it to push myself and train harder.”
At 152, Davie sophomore Matt Cusack dropped a 15-7 championship-round decision to Cary’s Gabe Brotzman. Cusack trailed 6-5 in the second period when the match suddenly turned.
“He caught me and put me on my back for a five-point move,” he said. “It was hard to come back from that.”
Waters finished with a 53-7 record this season and Cusack had a 55-6 mark. Davie totaled 98 team points and finished second to Cary (126.5) in the team standings.
In the 1A/2A consolation rounds, Salisbury’s Tre Jackson topped Mount Pleasant’s Nick Albertson to place fifth at 140. Teammate Dontarious Mills lost in the same round and finished sixth at 103.
East Rowan junior Chase Thompson (119) earned a fourth-place ribbon in the 3A bracket. Teammate Aaron Plyler, a four-time Rowan County champ, was sixth at 130 and finished the season with a 43-9 record.
Also in the 3A tournament, A.L. Brown claimed three medalists: Tristan Steele (fourth at 103); Morgan McDaniel (fourth at 135); and Jonathan Donatien (fifth at 140).
Davie freshman Alex Costner (103) placed fourth in 4A and teammate Shelton Sales (140) was a fifth-place finisher.