Here’s the Uwharrie Charter Academy wrestling team after winning the Class 1-A dual team state championship by defeating Avery County on Saturday in Greensboro. (PJ Ward-Brown/Randolph Record)
GREENSBORO – All the pieces came together for Uwharrie Charter Academy’s wrestling team in another tight battle with Avery County.
So this time, the Eagles won the Class 1-A dual team state championship.
“Anytime you do something like this, it’s pretty special,” UCA coach Chris Waddell said. “It takes plenty – so moving parts to make it happen. It takes a collective effort.”
Both teams won seven matches, but UCA racked up crucial points with pins and a technical fall to secure their second title in four seasons by prevailing 39-36 on Saturday afternoon at the Greensboro Coliseum’s fieldhouse.
UCA avenged a loss to Avery County in last February’s state final.
Jaden Maness, the 195-pounder for UCA, clinched the team outcome with a pin of Brandon Cabrera in 3:20.
“It was a big deal, sealed the dual,” Maness said. “Get the team the state title, it was a really big moment.”
The pin was important because it gave the Eagles enough points with one match left on the docket.
“Getting this pin for this team,” Maness said. “I love this team. It means a lot to me to get this pin and sealing the dual and getting the state title.”
There was plenty to celebrate for the Eagles (36-0). Waddell gained his 700th coaching victory.
He said the Eagles have been a committed and determined group.
“They train 11 months out of the year,” he said. “They do everything together. Hang out together.”
Avery County topped the Eagles 39-30 last year, when UCA entered the meet with a 35-0 record.
This year’s final began at 285 pounds, with UCA sophomore Caden Bond moving up a division to take the team’s spot in that match. He delivered with an 8-0 decision against Connor Brewer.
“I thought Caden did exceptionally well,” Waddell said. “For Caden to be able to do that, he’s only a sophomore and as hard-nosed as they come.”
Avery County (27-8) won three of the next four bouts for an 18-9 lead. Only Ethan Hines, with a technical fall by shutout at 113, prevented a four-match sweep.
Then the Eagles put it into gear.
In a clash of 2022 state champions, UCA’s Aldo Hernandez pinned Grant Reece in 1:08 of 132. That earned Hernandez the selection as the Most Valuable Wrestler of the meet. He won the 132 states last February, while Reece won at 126.
UCA 138-pounder Jack McArthur won with a second-period pin. Avery County pulled even in team scoring by winning at 145 before Lorenzo Alston produced a 17-second pin in the 152 bout.
Another decision for Avery County came before Grayson Roberts, also a 2022 state champion for UCA, received a forfeit at 170.
Cael Dunn, son of Avery County coach Matthew Dunn, notched a pin for the Vikings at 182 before Maness removed all doubt about the team outcome. UCA forfeited the 220-pound match to account for the final scoring.
UCA won the 2019 title before Avery County topped the Eagles for the 2020 crown. There wasn’t a tournament in 2021 due to the pandemic.
UCA and Northwest Guilford, which toppled Wilmington Laney 52-24 for the Class 4-A title, are the state’s only undefeated teams.
Next for the Eagles and other qualifying wrestlers will be individual regionals Friday and next Saturday following the next week by the state tournament. UCA is the host school for the Class 1-A East Regional.