Rocky Mount High wrestling coach Jermaine Jones wondered how the bright lights of the NCHSAA 3-A Eastern Regional individual wrestling tournament would affect freshman Wilson Smith.
It’s win-or-go home in the tournament, which was held at Rocky Mount High School, and despite winning a middle school state championship, Smith hadn’t wrestled on that stage in high school.
No matter the stage, it didn’t seem to make a difference. Smith picked up his 50th victory of the season, earning a spot in today’s regional championships at 120 pounds – not usually a weight class for freshmen – and a ticket to the state championship next week.
“He’s stepping up,” Jones said of Smith, who won by pin at 3:50. “He pinned a kid in the semifinal match. He (has), by far, blown my mind as far as a freshman and what he can do on the mat. I’m just looking for great things from him.”
Smith, who was ahead 9-0 when he scored the pin, was one of nine Nash County wrestlers who will compete for a regional championship today.
Along with Smith, teammate and 152-pounder Joseph Cooper made easy work of his semifinals match, setting the stage for possible back-to-back regional championships.
“(Today) won’t be new for him, but it’s going to be even harder,” Jones said. “It’s always harder to repeat that second one.”
Southern Nash’s Jordan Decosse qualified for the state tournament for the third time in his career with a 3-2 decision. Despite making a trio of trips to the state tournament, Decosse has yet to win a regional title, something he’s setting his sights on this season.
“Regionals is important to me,” said Decosse, who won at 126 pounds. “I got second last year. I was that close to winning it. I came here to win it. I got the one seed coming in. ... I’m going to wrestle like it’s any other match. I’m going to wrestle like it’s my game and wrestle like I’m here to win.
“That’s what I’m here to do. I’m here to win a regional championship.”
Southern Nash’s Jacoby Benjamin (160 pounds), Nash Central’s Steven Joyner (170) as well as Quamale Person (285), Keyaad Coley (195), Rahshaun Elliott (145) and Jorge Enciso (220) from Rocky Mount will be wrestling for a regional championship title.
“Their ultimate goal is to be a state champion,” Southern Nash coach Eddie Coble said. “You know, you have to qualify first. Making it to the championship match, that means you’re going to states.
“Getting in is half the battle.”
Justin Hite can be reached at 407-9951 or firstname.lastname@example.org