UCA excels for pressure-packed Class 1-A team title

Uwharrie Charter Academy’s wrestling team claimed the top hardware in Saturday’s Class 1-A dual team final. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)

Eagles wipe out deficit with pins to defend crown

GREENSBORO – Uwharrie Charter Academy wrestlers say they thrive on embracing pressure situations.

One after another, the Eagles had chances to show that on a big stage Saturday afternoon.

Needing to get through most of the back half of the Class 1-A dual team championship meet against Avery County without a glitch, the Eagles clicked time and time again.

Then it came down to 215-pounder senior Jaden Maness in the final bout. He pinned Conner Brewer in 2:41, giving the Eagles their second championship in as many seasons and third overall.

“I love that pressure,” Maness said. “That’s where I shine the most. With pressure like this, it’s a moment you never forget.”

UCA won 36-33 at the fieldhouse on the Greensboro Coliseum Complex grounds.

It turned out that pressure and pins were a good combination for the Eagles (35-1).

“It was a lot of pressure,” said UCA 175-pound entry Caden Bond. “Knowing if I didn’t get a pin, we might not win. I had to.”

Bond and his teammates kept coming through.

With UCA trailing after the meet began with the heavyweight class, 106-pounder Ethan Hines won 9-2 against Alexandero Ical Tuil at 106. After an Avery County pin, Brennan Worrell of UCA won at 120 by defeating King Orvosh 4-0.

The next two bouts ended in quick pins for Avery County and then another pin with 17 seconds left in the 138 match, pushing the Vikings (30-2) to a 27-6 lead.

Suddenly, there was no room for error for the Eagles.

“I trusted our team,” said 150-pounder Lorenzo Alston.

UCA’s Jack McArthur was the Most Valuable Wrestler in the Class 1-A dual team final. Here, he receives a plaque from NCHSAA commissioner Que Tucker. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)

UCA senior Jack McArthur got the Eagles back on track with a 6-2 decision against Mason Bentley at 144.

That result meant that coach Chris Waddell’s gamble paid off. McArthur was competing two divisions higher than normal, giving up nearly a dozen pounds. He had faced bigger wrestlers in the past.

“Maybe not quite that big,” McArthur said. “There’s never a guarantee it’s going to pay off. When it does, it pays off really well.”

McArthur was named the meet’s Most Valuable Wrestler.

“We always talk about our time is going to come and you have to shine through,” McArthur said.

So by then, the Eagles were feeling better.

“We got through the meat of their lineup and then it was the meat of our lineup,” Waddell said.

Alston followed at 150 pounds with a 13-second pin of Grayson Brown. That was the sophomore’s 100th career victory, improving his record to 41-0 this season.

“I knew around my weight class it was going to start picking back up,” Alston said.

Next came UCA 157-pounder Carson Robinson with a 4-2 victory against Johnathon Gragg, putting the team score at 27-18.

“It was a nailbiter,” Robinson said. “We knew we’d gain ground (at higher weights).”

By the time Alek Millikan wrapped up Barrett Potter for a second-period pin at 165, the Eagles and their fans were sensing they might pull this off.

Bond wasted no time in a 38-second pin of Maverick Mora and suddenly UCA was in the lead.

But Avery County’s Cael Dunn, a 2023 state champion, put the Vikings back on front. He was in position to pin Michael Shropshire, but the match ended in 32 seconds via injury default.

So the meet’s outcome would be determined with Maness on the mats.

Maness had never faced Bentley, so there was a bit of unknown – to some degree. That’s because Maness secured the clinching points against Avery County last February, though this was different because this was the last bout on the docket. UCA trailed 33-30.

“I knew it might come to (me),” Maness said. “It was a lot more pressure this year than last year.”

But for the Eagles, it was the same coveted result.

By Bob Sutton