Last season, Union County wrestlers claimed 11 NCHSAA regional championships highlighted by Piedmont’s Tripp Collins and Josh Blatt winning individual state titles and leading Piedmont to the team title.
This year the Panthers, led by Collins, are strong again but many teams have guys making big early-season waves.
Below is a team-by-team breakdown of who the county’s top grapplers are. All records are through Jan. 1.
• CATA is coming in strong once again this season, and the Cougars have several wrestlers who will compete for regional and state titles. Some of the early standouts to this point include: Aiden Nasta (17-5 individual record at 106 pounds), Grant Haney (18-3 at 113), Kyle Montaperto (17-1 at 120), Elijah Harris (20-2 at 126), Preston Scarborough (20-5 at 138), Jake Dodson (20-1 at 145), Brady Ross (22-2 at 152) and Aiden Curry (21-4 at 160). Curry, Montaperto and Scarborough are returning regional champions for the Cougars.
• Cuthbertson junior Jack McDermid is 18-4 on the season at 160 pounds. Senior William Swan, who is also listed at 160, is 15-4 while senior Leander Chance is 16-7 at 145 to lead the way for the Cavs. Ryan King and Noah Zandy have 13 wins each.
• Sam Bartholomew is currently Marvin Ridge’s top grappler, as the sophomore is 16-7 at 160 pounds to date. Dylan Kelly and Logan Fite also have 11 wins for the Mavs.
• Metrolina Christian is off to an impressive start. They are being led by AJ Hoyle (11-1 at 132 pounds), Niles Debnam (12-2 at 152), Bryce McFerson (12-3 at 170), Joshua Fahrenkrog (11-3 at 145) and Christian Palmer (10-4 at 120). Eighth-grader Connor Bellew is 5-0 at 145 pounds.
• Monroe doesn’t have much match experience, but the Redhawks have some big kids who are having success. Montavious Waters is 4-3 at the heavyweight (285 or above) spot, but the Redhawks also boast 222-pound Josiah Lumpkin, who is 5-3, and Bryzekeil Redfern, who is 4-2 at 182 pounds.
• Parkwood, meanwhile, has a lot of matches under its belt already and several guys are having strong starts to their season, including Caleb Simpson (26-9 at 138 pounds), Amir Joseph (23-5 at 195), Daniel Morrison (23-3 at 285), Cody Hardy (19-3 at 220) and Isaac Edward (16-6 at 160). Freshman Savannah Bramhall is 11-3 at 152 pounds and one of the county’s top female wrestlers.
• Sensational junior Tripp Collins leads defending state champion Piedmont with a 29-1 record at 126 pounds. Among coach Jamie Belk’s other standouts are defending regional champ Jake Cauble (26-4 at 113), Colby Locklear (24-8 at 152), Ryan Whetzel (19-9 at 220), John Lewis (19-13 at 152) and freshman Noah Coble (15-10 at 106).
• Porter Ridge is led by Ryan Blanchard, who has posted a 21-7 record at 120 pounds. Joshua Burns is 20-14 at 160 pounds, Nathan Carnes is 18-6 at 220 and Nathan Carnes is 15-7 at 195.
• Sun Valley heavyweight Charles Smith has started the season with an 18-5 record to pace the Spartans, but 220-pound Andrew Macchiavello is 15-4 and on his heels for the team’s wins leader. Jared Hough (13-5 at 132) and Lucas Cheek (10-6 at 182) are also having nice seasons.
• Union Academy is led by Isaac Williams, who has gone 13-3 at 152 pounds. Josiah Hemphill and Spencer Truesdale each have eight wins so far as well.
• Joe Zovistoski is 9-1 at 182 pounds to lead a core group of Weddington wrestlers that includes Devin King (13-9 at 132 pounds), freshman Luke Ries (12-5 at 106), Cian Nolan (12-5 at 152) and Janyd Houghton (12-10 at 170).