by Aaron Garcia
For the second consecutive year, the Central Academy wrestling team picked up two individual Class 1A state championships.
On Feb. 26 at Greensboro Coliseum, CATA senior Jamie Lemon captured gold in the 135-pound class after outscoring East Carteret’s Michael Thagard, 8-3. Lemon started the tournament with a 10-9 win over Cherokee’s Colby Yanez before downing Avery County’s Brock Yackey, 4-2, in the semifinals.
Fellow Cougar William Robinson won his second consecutive 285-pound title by pinning Swain County’s Christian Crowe in three minutes, 55 seconds. Robinson needed a rally to outscore High Point T.C. Andrews’s Sam Wahnetah in the semifinals, 11-9, after pinning Robbinsville’s Dillon Daniels in 1:14 to start the tournament.
Last year’s defending 103-pound champ, sophomore Daniel Gregorich, rebounded from a weeklong bout with the flu to take third place in the 112-pound division.
Robinson – whose title capped a 52-0 season and improved his career record to 140-22 – said this year’s run was made easier by the experience he gained last season.
“(It helped) my confidence level,” said Robinson, a senior. “I’d been there and seen that before, so it wasn’t as mentally challenging.”
The biggest difference for Robinson this season was carrying the mantle of defending state champion.
“That’s a big weight to carry because you walk around with a big ’ol target on your back,” Robinson explained. “Everybody wants to be the guy that beats the state champion. After a couple of weeks, I learned to embrace it. It made for a fun year.”
Lemon’s case was a bit different. After finishing 18-18 as a junior, the fourth-year wrestler had a breakout season and recorded a 46-5 record after dedicating himself during the offseason, said coach Mike Jacobus.
“He really turned it on and did everything he needed to do to put himself in position to have the best year he possibly could,” said Jacobus
That fact wasn’t lost on Lemon, especially as the referee lifted his arm in victory after the final match.
“The only thing that was going through my mind was all the hard work had paid off and I was state champion,” recalled Lemon.
For Jacobus, the fact that the fourth-year program has won four titles in his first two years as coach is a very good sign.
“It’s so rewarding to go to the biggest tournament of the year and have success,” he said. “Two years and four state champs – I never would have dreamt we could accomplish this much, this fast.