Southwestern Randolph wrestler ramps up for repeat

Jose Flores is embraced by coach Jacob Clapp with assistant Otto Wolin looking on after winning a state championship last February. (Randolph Record file photo)

Reigning state champion aims for another title

ASHEBORO – Southwestern Randolph junior Jose Flores has learned during the season what it’s all about to receive extra attention.

While that came with certain challenges because of his status, now he wants more of the spotlight as he seeks to repeat as a state champion.

“I’m excited about the postseason,” Flores said. “I’ve been working harder than ever. I want to be a two-time (champion).”

That quest begins with the Class 2-A Mideast Regional on Friday and Saturday at Eden Morehead.

Flores was a surprise winner in the state tournament last February at the Greensboro Coliseum. He won four matches by decisions to capture the 220-pound title in Class 3-A.

“I saw everybody was a junior and senior, and I’m the only sophomore,” he said. “This means a lot. … I believed in myself because I was putting in my work. I believed I was going to win.”

So these days on the prep wrestling circuit, Flores has credentials. Throughout the season, he said knew opponents could bolster their stocks if they knocked him off.

“It has been interesting,” he said. “No matter who I wrestle, they know I’m a state champion. I got my title on the line.”

Flores became Southwestern Randolph’s first wrestling state champion in seven years. He had a 31-2 record.

Cougars coach Jacob Clapp said Flores, an All-Piedmont Athletic Conference selection as a freshman and sophomore, has handled the rigors of this season in a positive way.

“He gets everybody’s best match,” Clapp said. “They know they’re going out facing a state champion, they want to prove something.”

Jose Flores (Bob Sutton/Randolph Record)

Flores, who opted not to play football in 2023, had an off-mat task as well. With the revamped weight classes, he had to chose between 215 and heavyweight. He had been at about 245 pounds.

For about half the season, he tangled with heavyweights, putting him up to 40 pounds lighter than some foes. Three of his defeats this season came in heavyweight bouts.

But the chore of coming down in weight also could be taxing.

“There was some nights I was debating – should I stick it out at heavyweight?” he said. “But I started the season off at heavyweight. I was so tired because they were heavy.”

Clapp said he knew Flores was nervous with some of the larger foes combined with the motivation from those opponents.

Flores ended the regular season with a 34-4 record, pinning Southeast Alamance’s Jack Jennings in 2:54 in a non-conference dual.

Part of the emphasis in training has been aimed at making Flores more aware of producing offensively, Clapp said. Some of that aggression naturally comes with experience.

His coach said he also has a trait has should be helpful this postseason.

“His unwillingness to quit,” Clapp said.

By Bob Sutton