The expectations are high for a trio of area wrestlers when the NCHSAA championships begin in Greensboro.
Coaches believe Tarboro’s David Guevara and Rocky Mount High’s Wilson Smith and Joseph Cooper are top contenders to bring home medals.
Guevara, a senior, enters the beginning of today’s 1-A state championship with a 39-4 record, and he is aiming to become the school’s first state title wrestler since Corey Smith in 2009.
Guevara has a pair of regular-season tournament titles to his resume, and he is a three-time state qualifier.
He did not compete in last season’s championships because of a concussion suffered the regional round.
Oddly enough, Guevara went on to defeat the state champion in the 113-pound division during an offseason match.
“I believe going in that he is the favorite,” Tarboro coach Andrew Harding said. “I don’t see a reason why he won’t be the state champion.”
Smith, a freshman, enters state competition with a regional championship and a 50-1 record in the 120-pound division.
He is believed to be the school’s first freshman wrestler to win a regional championship.
The only question surrounding Smith is whether the stage of the event will be too big.
Gryphons coach Jermaine Jones said he doesn’t believe it will be for Smith or Cooper (152 pounds).
Jones said little things like keeping track of match schedules and warm-up times are key to preparation.
“The crowd will be four times as big,” Jones said. “Hopefully, nobody gets stage fright. That’s a lot of eyes on you.”
Smith, Cooper and the Big East and 3-A East regional champion Gryphons will compete Friday and Saturday.
Coach Eddie Coble’s Southern Nash squad has five wrestlers who will compete in the championships, followed by Northern Nash with a pair and Nash Central with one.
Live state tournament results from the Greensboro Coliseum can be found online at www.nchsaa.escapesports.com.
Jessie H. Nunery can be reached at 407-9959 or firstname.lastname@example.org