GIBSONVILLE – Xavier Santos was relatively late to find wrestling as a preferred sport. But he’s finding it to be a good time.
The Asheboro junior secured a regional championship at 113 pounds Saturday, and he’ll lead a contingent of Blue Comets to the Class 3-A state tournament.
Santos won all three bouts in the two-day Midwest Regional at Eastern Guilford. The last of those was a pin in 1:12 of the regional final against Oak Grove’s John Courson.
The Blue Comets will send five wrestlers to states this week at the Greensboro Coliseum, with twin brothers Luke Lambeth (160 pounds) and Logan Lambeth (182) placing second in the regional and Diego Gutierrez (126) and Michael Brady (195) grabbing third-place finishes.
Santos began wrestling as an eighth-grader upon the recommendation of Gutierrez. He’s been hooked ever since.
“He said, ‘You should try it,’” Santos said. “I just decided to try it and (it worked out).”
Santos began the season in the weight class before dropping down. Yet at 5-foot-6, he said he often is taller than opponents in the division.
“I try to use it to my advantage that I’m tall and a little bit long,” he said.
Santos moved up to the No. 1 seed in the regional when the favorite didn’t make weight. He took care of business from there.
“Xavier has come on real strong,” Asheboro coach Wes Berrrier said. “He has definitely set himself up for (the state tournament).”
Santos (35-6) recorded a first-period pin in the quarterfinals, a technical fall in the semifinals before the pin in the final.
Berrier said Santos has developed several moves that he can use to his benefit.
“He’s just a well-rounded kid,” Berrier said. “It’s not just one thing.”
Santos reached the 2021 state tournament, losing his only bout. It was a restructured tournament because of the pandemic.
“Hope to at least place this time,” Santos said.
The Lambeth brothers each reached the finals before losing.
Luke Lambeth lost to Central Academy’s Aiden Curry by a 13-4 decision. Lambeth’s record is 36-5.
Logan Lambeth had a tough time against Central Academy’s Brady Ross, becoming a pin victim at 5:16. Ross was the Class 2-A state champion at 170. Lambeth (41-3) reached the final with a pair of first-period pins and a technical fall.
Gutierrez and Brady had a busy day moving through the consolation bracket for their third-place spots.
Gutierrez finished by defeating Sam Workman of Central Cabarrus 8-5 in the third-place bout, fending off a late-match move after building a lead. Brady finished the regional with a pin of Carson’s Ian Shue in 2:24 to secure third place.
“Those kids fought back, and taking third place is something you like to see,” Berrier said.
The big bummer for the Blue Comets came at heavyweight. Fourth-seeded Arhman Tyson won his opening match Friday. But Saturday morning in the quarterfinals, he suffered what Berrier referred to as a fractured ankle. So Tyson endured an injury disqualification and was eliminated from the tournament, ending his senior season with a 36-6 record.
Christian Diaz of Asheboro won three matches at 152, but failed to crack the top four.
Asheboro was fourth in the team with 128 points behind Central Academy (158.5), Eastern Guilford (145) and Parkwood (141).