Sometimes if you look hard enough, you can find the exact moment when a high school athlete grows into a man.

Those are the moments that has kept Bobby Shriner coaching the Orange High wrestling team for 27 years. On Thursday night, the latest growing moment was as clear as day.

Heavyweight Daylan Alston trailed Swansboro’s Patrick Peterson 6-4 with :20 remaining. Less than two weeks ago at the Havelock duals, Alston defeated Peterson 7-3 as Orange rolled to a 44-13 victory. At this moment, that was the last thing on Alston’s mind.

Peterson got on Alston’s back trying to ride out the victory, which would have narrowed the Orange lead to 27-21 with two matches remaining. Warming up for Swansboro: Nick Butler, the #1 ranked 106 pounder in the state.

A funny thing happened before Butler could take the mat to potentially put Swansboro in a position to tie…Daylan Alston became a man. Actually, he became THE man.

Peterson rode too high on Alston’s back, leading to an easy switch and reversal. Suddenly, Peterson’s back was on the mat with Alston’s 275-pound frame on top of him bending his right arm back. After a brief struggle, the referee slammed his arm to the mat. Alston had scored the pin with five seconds remaining in the third period.

Orange had gone from potentially having its season end to advancing to the regional final, which would prove to be anticlimactic.

All because of Daylan Alston’s growing moment.

“It was a crazy, crazy match,” said Shriner.

Orange forfeited the final two matches in the regional semifinal to defeat Swansboro 33-30 at Gray’s Creek High School in Hope Mills. Less than an hour later, the Panthers defeated Gray’s Creek 40-24 to earn its ninth regional championship, its fifth in 3-A.

The Panthers will wrestle 3-A Western Regional Champion Piedmont in Monroe on Saturday at 6. Our live radio coverage on begins at 5:45 with Jeff Hamlin and Larry Smith.

Against the Bears, the Panthers put the match out of reach with four straight pins. Following Caleb Brimmer’s 8-7 victory over the Bears’ Jalen Keith to put Orange ahead 13-6, Josiah Ramirez scored his second pin of the night at 170, easily finishing off Leo Walsh in :39. Braden Homsey followed with another pin at 182. At 195, Jamar Davis pinned Dylan Porter at 1:38. Then Payton Wilson, who received football scholarship offers from Georgia and Michigan State this week, finished off Tony Tyndal in :51, which clinched the championship.

While Orange makes its ninth trip in 27 years to a dual state championship match, Piedmont is making its fourth. The previous three appearances were as a 2A team. Piedmont (also nicknamed the Panthers) claime the 2012 2A state championship over Croatan 41-22, after previously losing in to the Cougars in ’10 and ’11.

Piedmont (29-1) stunned Enka in the Western Regional Finals on Thursday night in Newton. It was the Jets’ first loss of the year.

Among the standout bouts scheduled for Saturday’s championship will be at 152, where Piedmont junior Matt Price faces Orange’s Charlie Fitzpatrick. Price is ranked #1 in the state, while Fitzpatrick is #3.

At 170, Ramirez (#7) faces Piedmont’s Mathis Strickland (#8).

Alston, ranked tenth among heavyweights, is slated to face Piedmont’s Luis Oropesa.



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