Acosta, seven other Orange wrestlers advance to Mideast Regional semis; Cedar Ridge’s Martinez win matches at 113

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Updated: February 12, 2022

The last time the 3A State Wrestling Championships were held at the Greensboro Coliseum, it was February 2020, just a few weeks before the new normal set in around the world.

Only three Hillsborough-area wrestlers reached the state championships.

Based on the opening day of the 3A Mideast Regionals on Friday, it appears there will be considerably more this year.

Eight Orange wrestlers reached the semifinals at Union Pines High School in Cameron on Friday. Also, Cedar Ridge’s Fernando Martinez won his opening matches at 113 pounds, including a pinfall victory over Southern Lee’s Nate Moss for his 90th career win. Martinez, a junior, reached the regional semifinals for the second time. As a freshman in 2020, Martinez won his first two matches at 106 pounds.

Orange had two grapplers receive #1 seeds. At 126 pounds, junior Dillon Heffernan received a bye into the second round. In his only match on Friday, Heffernan scored a 16-3 major decision over Justin Richardson of Douglas Byrd 16-3. On Saturday morning, Heffernan will face Luc Young of Terry Sanford in the semifinals. Heffernan is 29-6 this season.

At 220 pounds, junior Elijah Acosta earned a top seed after recording a 28-4 mark in his first season as a full-time starter. Acosta pinned Northern Nash’s Sammy Huddleston in 5:40 in his only match of the day. He will face Jake Dunning of Northwood in the semifinals. It will be the fourth time this year that Acosta has opposed Dunning. On December 2, Acosta defeated Dunning 12-5 in the championship match of the Jim King/Orange Invitational. Acosta also defeated Dunning in two separate dual matches in 2022, including last week in the opening round of the 3A State Team Tournament.

Orange senior Brendon Worsham is one win away from reaching the 182-pound regional championship match for the third straight year. Worsham received a #3 seed and pinned Richard Middlemiss of Southern Lee in 2:33, then pinned Aidan Murphy of Franklinton in 2:42 in the quarterfinals. Worsham will face second-seeded Demontrious Ratliff of Fayetteville 71st on Saturday.

At heavyweight, Orange’s Hugo Vazquez earned a #3 seed. In the quarterfinals, Vazquez edged Franklinton’s Landon Michael 2-1 for his first trip to the semifinals. Vazquez will face Northern Nash’s Jaquan Elliott in the semifinals.

At 182 pounds, Acoya Isley pinned Southern Lee’s Joshua Silva in 2:48. Isley, seeded #4, will face Scotland County’s Michael Locklear in the semifinals.

The biggest surprise of the day came at 160 pounds where Andre Hill stunned top-seeded Wade Johnson of Harnett Central in the second round. Hill, another first-year starter, rode out an 8-4 victory over Johnson to reach the semifinals. In the opening round, Hill pinned Zeke May of Western Alamance in 4:22.

At 132 pounds, Orange’s Jared Hutchins pinned second-seeded Luis Arellano of Southern Nash in 1:14. Hutchins, who is now 26-7 on the season after four wins in the 3A State Dual Team Tournament last week, faces Cameron Curva of Western Harnett in the semifinals.

Orange’s Braden Crawford also earned a trip to the semifinals at 120 pounds. Crawford pinned Southern Lee’s Nasir’e Jones in 1:57 to open the day, then defeated third-seeded Zy’Aire Priester 11-7 in the quarterfinals. It was Crawford’s second win over Priester this season. Dakota Little of Westover, the #2 seed at 120, awaits Crawford on Saturday.

In addition to the wrestlers who reached the semifinals, there are several more who remain in contention for the state championships in the consolation brackets.

Orange’s Aidan Sierra and Cedar Ridge’s Jaylen Williams are in the consolation bracket at 106 pounds.

At 120 pounds, Cedar Ridge’s Pierce Prescod pinned Northwood’s Coltrane Northington in 1:07. Prescod lost to top-seeded Christian Rothrock of Douglas Byrd in the quarterfinals. He will face Damani Nantambu of Southern Nash in the consolation round.

Cedar Ridge’s Kaden Tatro pinned Chaz May of Western Alamance in 1:44. Tatro was pinned in the second round by Byrd’s Demarcus Carroll.

Orange is second in the team standings after the first day with 54.5 points. Union Pines, the 3A Eastern Regional Champion, is in first place with 68.5 points. Cedar Ridge, who had representatives in all 13 weight classes for the first time in coach Scott Metcalf’s tenure, had 19.5 points.

The top four wrestlers from each weight class will reach the 3A State Tournament, which starts on Thursday at the Greensboro Coliseum.

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