by Aaron Garcia
When time ran out and Piedmont High School wrestler Alex Turner had secured a Class 2A state championship at Greensboro Coliseum, he struggled to grasp the moment. Turner had defeated Trinity’s Joseph Anders, 5-1, to win the 135-pound division title on Feb. 26, but the Panthers senior couldn’t believe it.
“It was so surreal, it was kind of hard for me to wrap my head around the fact that out of the entire (2A class), at 135, I was the best,” said Turner. “It took me a while to realize what had just happened.
“It was the best way I could’ve possibly ended (my career). It’s a goal I’ve always had since I started wrestling. It’s always been my ultimate goal.”
The state title run improved Turner’s season record to 61-3 and 129-31 for his career. It also capped an impressive debut in the state tournament for Turner, who pinned Charlotte Berry’s Larry Gibson in 5 minutes, 36 seconds in the semifinals after beating Newton-Conover’s Eric Holbrook a round earlier.
More important, it gave Piedmont wrestling its first individual state championship in school history.
The moment wasn’t lost on teammate Parker VonEgidy, who was preparing for the 152-pound finals as Turner clinched his title.
“I was in the warm-up room sitting down, and one of my teammates came in and said, ‘Alex won! Alex won!’” VonEgidy recalled. “When they told me that, I was like, ‘Well, now it’s my turn.’”
VonEgidy was right. The sophomore outscored Louisburg’s Smiley Mueller, 3-2, to win the title. VonEgidy pinned Franklinton’s Brandon Rollins in 4:30 in the semifinal match after beating Newport Croatan’s Jon Mancini, 5-2, in the quarterfinals.
“At first, I thought back to last year,” said VonEgidy, who finished sixth in 2010. “Last year, I never thought this would’ve happened, but when it did, I was just so happy.”
The win improved VonEgidy’s season record to 61-1. His two-year career mark is 111-15.
“It was a real special day,” said 14th-year Piedmont coach Todd Stokes.
Stokes said it was good for the school to finally break through with a pair of state titles, and judging from the fact that, two days later, there were six wrestlers already preparing for next season, it’s possible Turner and VonEgidy’s titles are just the beginning of a special run for Piedmont.
“It was pretty neat to see that,” Stokes said. “As long as they continue that mentality, the sky’s the limit for this group.”