Month: February 2020

Alumni Update: Basketball season winds down for Barnett, Campbell

Mia Davidson: The Mississippi State softball team rallied past Central Arkansas 6-3 at Nusz Park in Starkville, MS on Wednesday. UCA led 2-0 at the end of three innings, but Davidson sparked a rally with a triple in the bottom of the fourth. She scored off a groundout by Carter Spexarth. In the 5th, Davidson laced a single to left field to score Candace Denis. It was Davidson’s fourth multi-hit game of the year. Mississippi State improves to 13-3. This weekend, the Bulldogs will host the Alex Wilcox memorial Tournament, which will include UAB, Alcorn State and UT Martin.

Brad Debo: The #8 N.C. State baseball team defeated UNC Wilmington 11-0 in Raleigh on Tuesday night. Debo replaced catcher Patrick Bailey in the ninth inning. He didn’t make a plate appearance.

Icez Barnett: The Division II Chowan women’s basketball team ended the regular season on Tuesday night. Limestone defeated the Hawks 78-72 at the Helms Center in Murfreesboro. After starting the previous three games, Barnett came off the bench and played four minutes. Barnett played 18 games in the regular season. She averaged 9.4 minutes per game. She scored 39 points and grabbed 44 rebounds. Chowan will travel to Belmont Abbey, ranked #10 in Division II, in the opening round of the Conference Carolinas Tournament on Monday.

Kaylen Campbell: The season of the Division III Trinity Bantams ended in the quarterfinals of the New England Small Conference Athletic Conference on Saturday. Williams College defeated Trinity 65-56 in Williamstown, MA. Campbell played three minutes to end her sophomore season. This season, Campbell played 20 games. She averaged 10.9 minutes per game and 2.6 points per game. Trinity ends the year 16-9.

Lauren Cates: The Wake Tech Community College women’s basketball team played its final home game of the season by rolling past South Carolina Faith A&M 107-33 on Monday night in Raleigh. Cates came off the bench to score four points, grab four rebounds and dish out two assists. The Eagles, who are now 17-7, will travel to Louisburg College on Thursday night to finish the regular season.

Bowen Collins: Belmont Abbey men’s lacrosse team, ranked #6 in Division II, defeated the #16 Lenoir Rhyne Bears 12-7 on Friday at Alumni Field in Belmont. Collins assisted on Lenoir Rhyne’s first goal of the game, which was scored by Eric Dickinson. With that goal, Dickinson became the all-time leading goal scorer in South Atlantic Conference history. Collins had five shots, two on net, and one ground ball. The Bears fall to 2-1.

Zach Wright: The Division II Mars Hill men’s lacrosse team defeated Shorter 8-6 at Meares Stadium in Mars Hill on Wednesday night. Wright, a senior who played at Orange, had two shots. On Saturday, the Lions defeated Emmanuel 15-13. Wright scored a goal for the Lions and had two ground balls. Mars Hill is 3-2.

Aidan Poole: The former Cedar Ridge Red Wolf has started the last three games for the Division III Greensboro College Pride. On Wednesday night, Poole started as a defenseman as Greensboro defeated Ferrum 14-11 in Virgina. Poole also started in Greensboro’s 16-3 win over Oglethorpe University at Pride Field on Saturday. Poole scored his second college goal on February 19 in Guilford’s 16-9 win over the Pride. Last season, Poole played in eleven games for the Pride, but didn’t start in any of them.

Eastern Alamance ends Orange women’s season 58-33

These are golden times for Eastern Alamance athletics.

Last spring, the softball team captured the 3A State Championship on the strength of freshman pitcher Kenna Rae Dark. On a 20-player roster, they had only four seniors.

Last fall, the football team rolled through the 3A/2A Mid-State Conference undefeated and advanced to the 3A Eastern Regional Championship, where they lost to Southern Nash 32-29 in Mebane. They finished 14-1.

This winter, the Eagles’ women’s basketball team served notice that they will be a force to be dealt with for years to come, if not sooner.

As in the next two weeks.

Starting four sophomores, the Eagles eliminated Orange from the NCHSAA 3A State Playoffs 58-33 on Tuesday night inside Tal Jobe Gymnasium in Mebane. Laila Anderson led the Eagles with 20 points, while classmate Amiyah Evans added 17.

The Eagles, who won the Mid-State Conference Tournament last week and earned a four-seed, will host Jacksonville White Oak on Thursday night in the second round.

Orange, which ended the year 11-13, trailed 13-7 at the end of the first quarter. Samatha George and Grace Andrews hit 3-pointers in the second quarter to cut Orange’s deficit to 17-13, but the Eagles went on a 13-2 run to finish the first half and led 30-15 at the half.

Orange went scoreless for the first 4:15 of the second half. Eastern rolled off a 10-0 run to open the third quarter and put the game away.

“(Coach) Tim (Krotish) does a great job over here,” said Orange Coach B.J. Condron. “They played solid man-to-man defense on us the whole game. We turned the ball over several times. I knew one of the keys to the game was us not turning the ball over. And we turned the ball over.”

It was the second year in a row that the Eagles defeated the Lady Panthers in the opening round of the state playoffs.

Sophomore guard Aaliyah Harris was the only Orange player in double figures with eleven points, which was a fitting way for the season to end. Harris was forced to take an increased scoring role after sophomore Mary Moss Wirt injured her knee against Carrboro on December 12. Despite her best efforts, Wirt missed Orange’s last 20 games.

Nonetheless, Orange made the state playoffs for the fourth time in five years despite numerous injuries.

Collectively, Orange starters missed 30 games due to injuries or other commitments in a 24-game season. That’s after losing four senior starters from last year.

It was also a young team. On Tuesday, Orange started three sophomores, a freshman and junior forward Jala Rainey. The only seniors were Grace Andrews and Brenna Mehl.

Nonetheless, the Lady Panthers carried Big 8 Champion Northwood to overtime on February 5 in Hillsborough, defeated Vance County 60-45 to start 2020 and had three competitive games with Chapel Hill.

The Tigers won its opening round state playoff game at Southern Wayne on Tuesday.

“I’ll remember this team’s resiliency,” Condron said. “They could have had a number of excuses to give up this season. But they didn’t. They battled. They didn’t give up. They made some games close that probably shouldn’t have been close and won some games that they probably shouldn’t have.”

Andrews still has softball season ahead. She claimed a state championship her freshman year as a starting 2nd baseman for the Lady Panthers.

While Mehl’s athletic career at Orange is over, her future is blindingly bright. With a 4.6 grade point average, she plans to attend UNC or N.C. State to study biomedical engineering.


ORANGE: Aaliyah Harris 11, Samantha George 3, Jala Rainey 7, Erin Jordan-Cornell 5, Grace Andrews 7.

EASTERN ALAMANCE: Laila Anderson 20, Kara Jones 7, Hali Watkins 6, Amiyah Evans 17, MaKenzy Tucker 4, Tashawna Garner 2, Ginia Lawson 2.

Orange’s Grace Andrews talks her final basketball game

The Orange women’s basketball team had its season come to an end on Wednesday night in the 3A State Playoffs. For the second year in a row, Eastern Alamance eliminated the Lady Panthers in the opening round. Laila Anderson scored 20 points to lead the Eagles. It was the final game for Orange seniors Grace Andrews and Brenna Mehl. Andrews started playing on the varsity in her sophomore season. She was a regular rotation player for last year’s Orange team that won 19 games and finished 2nd in the Big 8 Conference. Andrews claimed a state championship early in her career. She was a second baseman for the 2017 Orange softball team that won the 3A State Championship at Dail Field in Raleigh over Piedmont. In fact, Andrews recorded the putout that clinched the title. Now that her basketball career has ended, she’ll start practicing for softball season on Wednesday. The Orange softball teams starts its season against Holly Springs on Wednesday in Hillsborough.

Cedar Ridge’s Dalehite out for softball season with torn ACL

Possibly the most versatile female athlete in Cedar Ridge history has had her high school career come to a sad and premature end.

Tori Dalehite will be forced to sit out her senior softball season after she was diagnosed with a torn ACL in her right knee. She will undergo surgery Thursday.

Dalehite suffered the injury in the final minute of a basketball game against East Chapel Hill on February 10. The Wildcats won the game 54-13.

The injury means she will have played softball, her best sport, for only two years at Cedar Ridge. In her freshman season, Dalehite tore the ACL in her left knee on the first day of basketball practice.

It has been a bittersweet winter for the Dalehite family. Her brother, Landon, was a starting guard for the Gravelly Hill Middle School Grizzlies, who defeated Phillips to win the OPAC Boys Basketball Championship on February 11 in Efland. It was the first OPAC Championship in varsity boys basketball in school history.

Gravelly Hill won the day after Dalehite was injured.

It’s a devastating loss for a Cedar Ridge team that was counting on Dalehite’s return to make another run at the Big 8 Championship. But losing players to injury has become a pattern for Coach Allen Byrd.

“I have had the privilege of coaching Tori over the past two years,” Byrd said. “Two weeks ago, I receive a  phone call from Tori’s Dad informing me that Tori had just went down with an unknown knee injury during a basketball game. As a coach, this a phone call that you never want to receive. Coming off of back to back Conference Championships – back to back third round playoff runs… to hear that you may not have your “leader” is devastating. It’s simply heartbreaking.”

“However, I was more devastated for Tori,” Byrd continued. “She has dedicated most of her life to the sport of softball, she was gearing up for an amazing senior season. To have that taken away from her is heartbreaking.”

In her freshman year, Dalehite, pitcher Rivers Andrews and catcher Kymberlie Thacker all missed the 2017 season due to various injuries. The trio returned healthy the following year and the result was the best team in school history.

Behind Andrews’ dominant pitching and a deep batting order, the Red Wolves rolled to a 17-1 regular season, opening the year with a win at Eastern Alamance and losing only to Roxboro Community School.

From the time they started their Big 8 Conference schedule with an 11-0 win over Northwood, the Red Wolves were never seriously challenged. They went 14-0 to win the first softball conference championship in school history, outscoring league opponents 137-6.

In her first varsity season, Dalehite was named Big 8 Hitter of the Year after she finished with a .582 batting average with 32 hits, 32 RBIs, 29 runs and five triples, all team highs.

In the third round of the 3A State Playoffs, Dalehite hit a three-run homer against West Brunswick in the third inning in Shallote. In the fifth inning, she broke her hand after getting hit by a pitch, but still finished the game at 2nd base. The Trojans won 4-3 in nine innings. While the rest of the Red Wolves took a four-hour bus ride home, Dalehite stayed behind at the coast to get her hand examined at a hospital.

Last year, Cedar Ridge set a school record for victories (21-3) and tied Orange for the Big 8 Championship. The Red Wolves defeated the Lady Panthers in a special tiebreaker for the #1 seed to the state playoffs 8-3 at Panther Softball Field.

Though it wasn’t as dominant as 2018, Cedar Ridge still made a run to the third round of the state playoffs. They defeated West Johnston 4-3 in 11 innings after a walkoff single by Tionna Carter. On May 10, the Red Wolves romped pat West Carteret in Morehead City. In that game, Dalehite hit a two-run homer in the third inning to dead center, her final dinger for the Red Wolves.

Eastern Alamance knocked the Red Wolves out the following week. In her final at-bat, Dalehite singled against Eastern Alamance freshman pitcher Kenna Raye Dark, who eventually led the Eagles to the 3A State Championship.

Last year, Dalehite verbally committed to play softball at UNC Greensboro. Her signing ceremony took place in November.

In a time of increased specialization of high school athletes, Dalehite remained a three-sport athlete to the very end regardless of the talent level around her. She reached the state playoffs in three different sports.

Dalehite played volleyball for four years. Last fall, she was a part of a Cedar Ridge team that upset Chapel Hill and returned to the state playoffs for the first time since 2015.

She played varsity basketball for three years. As a sophomore, the Red Wolves finished 14-11 and reached the state playoffs, losing to D.H. Conley in the opening round.

“She is a leader on and off the field, and I have no doubt she will bounce back,” Byrd said. “I am a better person for having the opportunity to know Tori, I have no doubt that she will excel in the classroom and on the field, but more importantly, she will excel in this game called life.”

Campbell’s Ramble: Big Save Dave

As some of y’all might already know based on comments I have made every now and again on broadcasts or from getting to know me in person, I am a loud and proud Carolina Hurricanes fan. Tripp Tracy of Fox Sports Carolinas fame would more than likely describe me as a “huge caniac.” 

Of all the sports teams I love, whether it be the Carolina Panthers, the New York Yankees, or even the Charlotte Hornets. None have put me on quite the rollercoaster the Hurricanes have. For better or for worse, I know what every season is going to be like for my other three teams. The Yankees are always good, the Panthers are consistently mediocre, and the Hornets are just bad. For the Canes, that has never quite been the case. 

Now, I didn’t become a real Hurricanes fan until probably around 5 or 6 years ago, a much shorter amount of time than I have been a fan of my other teams. With that being said, I’ve been through more of an emotional roller coaster in that short amount of time watching the Hurricanes than any of my other teams combined. The opposite ends of that spectrum can be seen quite easily in just two of the many games I have attended at PNC Arena in Raleigh. 

First, we have the low point. November 14, 2015, the Hurricanes are playing host to the Philadelphia Flyers. Carolina jumped out to 2-0 lead, before promptly blowing it and allowing the game to get to overtime. After Philly’s Jakub Voracek netted home the winner in overtime for the visitors, I promptly started exiting the arena, only to boot into a trash can. That was just the start of a very unpleasant trip home, but I think you guys get the point of it and could do without more details. 

So if that’s the low, what’s the high? Well, that took place on April 15, 2019. Canes, Caps, Game 3 of the first round in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The first Canes playoff game at home in 10 years. I maintain that that is the loudest building I have ever set foot in, and I have been to a Carolina-Duke game at the Dean Dome. My years as a fan had finally been rewarded with the game of a lifetime, watching the Canes blow out their archrival in the playoffs. 

But of all these highs and lows I just described, not a single moment in Hurricanes history has made me more proud to be a fan. With James Reimer leaving the game last Saturday evening in Toronto, Petr Mrazek had to come in and play his second game in as many days. Mrazek was putting on a show in the crease, only allowing 1 goal on the night, and helping the Canes out to a 3-1 lead about halfway through the second period. 

All of a sudden, a collision with Maple Leafs forward Kyle Clifford knocked Petr out of the hockey game, forcing emergency back up goalie Dave Ayres into action. 

To be quite honest with you, I had absolutely zero faith in Dave when he came into the game, I thought there was no way in the world that the 42-year-old Zamboni driver of the Maple Leafs AHL affiliate Toronto Marlies would get it done in an NHL game. And after the Canes extended the lead from 3-1 to 4-1 right after Ayres entered the game, a man who last played competitive hockey in a league called Allan Cup Hockey in 2014 (where his numbers were atrocious, mind you) had a 3 goal lead to protect with about 30 minutes remaining in an NHL hockey game. 

Now, my lack of faith in Ayres seemed to be validated at first, as our favorite Zamboni driver gave up 2 goals on his first 3 shots faced, as the Leafs cut the Canes lead down to just 4-3 at the second intermission. 

Thankfully, everything turned around for Ayres after he got a word of advice from Hurricanes center Erik Haula in the dressing room. “Just have fun. We don’t care if you let 10 goals in.” Those were all the words Dave needed to settle down and save 7 out of 7 shots faced in the third period, propelling the visitors to a 6-3 victory in one of the most hostile venues in hockey. Earning the nickname from some folks on twitter of “Big Save Dave.”

Now, Ayres gets to come down to Raleigh on Tuesday and sound the pregame warning siren as his teammates from last Saturday take the ice, has a shirt with his name on it being sold by the team online, and is doing interviews left and right throughout the coming days. 

It truly was a fairy tale for Dave Ayres in Toronto on Saturday, with his name now permanently etched into the NHL history books, and the memories of hockey fans around the world. For showing me a story better than Hollywood could possibly come up with and reminding me and many others why we love sports, I will never forget you Big Save Dave. As Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’amour inscribed on the wine bottle he gifted you postgame, “Thanks for the memory!”

Orange Panther of the Week: Kessel Summers

This week’s Orange Panther of the Week is 126-pound junior wrestler Kessel Summers. Over the weekend, Summers won two matches in the 3A State Wrestling Championships at the Greensboro Coliseum. In the opening match, Summers pinned Havelock’s Nate Lucia in 5:52. In the consolation round, Summers defeated Northside-Jacksonville’s Josh Myers via pinfall in 2:20. Summers ends the year 42-14. Last year, Summers qualified for the state championships at 113 pounds. In his sophomore season, Summers went 39-14 with 17 pins. Next year, Summers will start his senior year with 97 career wins. Summers won a Orange Person Athletic Conference championship in his 8th grade year at Stanford Middle School. Now that wrestling season has ended, Summers will return to the weight room and focus on returning to the state championship once again next year as the Orange wrestling team looks to return to the top of the Big 8 Conference.

Alumni Update: Riley opens with two saves for Liberty

Landon Riley: The Liberty Flames baseball team has won three of its last four games. Former Orange Panthers pitcher Landon Riley had saves in two of them. Last Wednesday, the Flames defeated Radford 4-2 for its first victory of the season at Worthington Field in Lynchburg, VA. Riley had a four-out save, striking out three. He faced five batters. Over the weekend, the Flames took the final two games of its series against Seton Hall. On Saturday, Riley picked up his second save of the season. He threw two-and-two-thirds innings. Riley struck out two, yielded two hits and one earned run. He also appeared in Liberty’s game against Clemson on February 16, a 6-2 Tiger win. In one-and-one-thirds inning, Riley faced six batters. He struck out one and surrendered two hits and one earned run. The Flames are 3-4 and will host Longwood on Tuesday before preparing for a weekend series against Marist.

Brad Debo: The #12 N.C. State baseball team remains undefeated after sweeping Tennessee Tech at Doak Field in Raleigh over the weekend. Debo started as designated hitter in the second game of Saturday’s doubleheader, a 10-3 Wolfpack win. He went 1-for-4 with a run scored in the sixth inning. On Sunday, Debo started again and went 0-for-2. N.C. State is 7-0 and will face UNC Wilmington on Tuesday in Raleigh.

Phillip Berger: In his first start for the Division III William Peace Pacers, Berger threw a three-hit shutout (seven innings) as Peace defeated Mary Washington 7-0 at the USA Baseball Complex in Cary on Sunday. Berger struck out five and walked only one. Berger, who graduated from Cedar Ridge in June with 21 career wins, made his first appearance with the Pacers in a 9-1 victory over Brevard on February 8. He struck out the only batter he faced in the first game of a doubleheader. Later that afternoon, Berger threw one-and-two-thirds innings in the second game of the doubleheader, striking out four over one-and-two-thirds innings. He yielded two hits and one run. Berger came out of the bullpen for long relief in a 17-inning marathon against Hampden-Sydney. Peace scored two in the top of the 17th to win 5-3 at Ty Cobb Ballpark in Hampton-Sydney, VA. Berger threw four-and-two-thirds innings, striking out four. He gave up only three hits, one run with no walks. Peace is 8-1.

Montana Davidson: Montana hit her first home run of the season for Mississippi State in its 10-4 victory over San Diego State on Saturday night. Montana went 2-for-5 in a doubleheader that started with a 6-2 loss to BYU in the Mary Nutter Collegiate Classic at Palm Springs, CA. Against the Cougars, Davidson singled in her first at-bat and made a diving catch along the third base line. Montana is hitting .231.

Mia Davidson: Mia hit .294 with a triple and two RBIs over five games in the Mary Nutter Classic. Davidson went 2-for-3 with an RBI in a 6-3 victory over UC Riverside. She went 1-for-3 with an RBI single in the 10-4 win against San Diego State. Mississippi State is 12-3 overall and will host Central Arkansas on Wednesday.

Icez Barnett: As her freshman year winds down, Barnett continues to start for the Division II Chowan women’s basketball team. On top of that, Chowan has won consecutive games for the first time since the start of 2020. On Wednesday, Chowan defeated Southern Wesleyan 69-58 at Tysinger Gym in Central, S.C. Barnett, who started at forward, scored four points and grabbed six rebounds in 12 minutes. She also had two blocks and one steal. On Saturday, Chowan won a thriller over Lees-McRae 71-68 in overtime in Murfreesboro at the Helms Center. Barnett scored three points, grabbed two rebounds, dished out two assists and made two steals in 16 minutes. Chowan is fighting for a spot in the Conference Carolinas Tournament. The Hawks will commemorate senior night against Limestone on Tuesday night. If Chowan wins, they will clinch eighth place and a trip to the conference tournament. The Hawks are 6-19, 6-15 in Conference Carolinas.

Lauren Cates: The Wake Tech Community College women’s basketball team lost to Catawba Valley Community College 62-52 at Tarlton Complex in Hickory on Thursday. Cates started but shot 0-2 from the field. She had three rebounds and five assists. Wake Tech will have its final home game on Monday night (February 24) against South Carolina Faith A&M. The Eagles are 16-7 overall, 9-6 in Region X of the National Junior College Athletic Association.

Orange women’s basketball to face E. Alamance in state playoffs–again

For the fourth time in five years, the Orange women’s basketball team has made the state playoffs.

Instead of driving three hours to face an opponent they know by name only, the Lady Panthers will take a short hop up Highway 70 on Tuesday night to play in a familiar gym against a team they know very well.

Orange will face Mid-State Conference Champion Eastern Alamance in Mebane on Tuesday night. The Eagles finished the regular season tied with Northern Guilford for 1st place in the Mid-State 2A/3A Conference at 12-2. That tie was broken when the Eagles defeated the Nighthawks 46-43 in the Mid-State Tournament Championship game on Saturday night.

Eastern Alamance, coached by Tim Krotish, finished its conference tournament 22-4.

“We are really excited about being able to continue playing,” said Orange coach B.J. Condron. “It’s great that we don’t have to travel too far. We have our work cut out for us in a really good Eastern Alamance team, but we are looking forward to the challenge.”

Orange was the sixth and final team from the Big 8 Conference to make the 3A State Playoffs. They received a #29 seed, while the Eagles are seeded fourth.

The winner will face the winner of White Oak vs. Swansboro on Thursday.

This marks the second year in a row that Orange and Eastern Alamance will tangle in the opening round of the 3A State Playoffs. Last year, Eastern used a trapping defense to frustrate the Lady Panthers and pull off a 57-52 upset in Hillsborough. It marked the end of an era for Orange, as seniors Icez Barnett, Lauren Cates, Grace Dively and Kate Burgess all played their final games in a Panther uniform.

It was especially emotional for Barnett, who started her career at Eastern Alamance before transferring to Orange for her sophomore year.

Orange almost annually visits Eastern Alamance for its Holiday Hoops Tournament. In December, the Lady Panthers played three games inside Eagle Gymnasium.

The Burlington School defeated Orange in the opening round 57-46. The Lady Panthers, who had lost sophomore guard Mary Moss Wirt to an injured knee two weeks earlier against Carrboro, rebounded to beat Bartlett Yancey and Riverside and finished in fifth place.

Orange (11-12) is coming off a 51-36 loss to Chapel Hill in the opening round of the ill-fated Big 8 Women’s Basketball Tournament last Tuesday. The Tigers never got to play its semifinal game against Southern Durham after the tournament was canceled because of snow Thursday.

Trailing 24-23 at halftime, the Lady Panthers traded the lead with Chapel Hill throughout the third quarter before the Tigers’ defense took over. Orange was held to four points in the final quarter, all scored by sophomore guard Samantha George.

Without the four senior starters from last year, Condron knew he would have a young team when practice started in November. He had no idea how young they would eventually be when Wirt went down with a season-ending injury on December 12. Wirt was Orange’s top returning scorer from last season and their top 3-point threat.

Sophomore forward Jarmil Wingate, senior Grace Andrews and freshman center Erin Jordan-Cornell have also missed games this year. Against Cedar Ridge on January 30, Orange even played without four starters (Jordan-Cornell, Wirt, Wingate and George) but still pulled out a 52-40 win on the Red Wolves’ senior night.

Sophomore Aaliyah Harris, one of only two players to appear in all of Orange’s 23 games, leads the Lady Panthers with 12 points per game.

The Lady Panthers are the third team from Orange to reach the state playoffs this year. The volleyball and wrestling teams both fell in the opening rounds of their respective tournaments.

Summers wins two matches as Orange’s wrestling season ends at State Championships

Kessel Summers gave Orange it’s only wins of the weekend at the 3A State Wrestling Championships at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Summers, a junior who qualified for the 3A State Championships for the second year in a row, finished 2-2 on the weekend at 126 pounds. After the tournament was delayed on Thursday because of snow, Summers pinned Havelock’s Nate Lucio in 5:52 in the opening round on Friday afternoon. It was the second time this season that Summers defeated Lucio. In the Havelock Duals on January 12, Summers defeated Lucio 14-5.

In the quarterfinals, Enka’s Corbin Dion scored a 20-5 technical fall on Summers. Dion, who ended the year 57-5, wound up with the state championship. In the semifinals, Dion rallied from an early 4-1 deficit to defeat Southern Guilford’s Stephen Cotton 10-7. In the final, Dion faced Marion’s Tommy Capul, who he defeated to win the Western Regional Championship last weekend. Dion earned a 6-2 decision.

In the consolation round, Summers pinned Northside-Jacksonville’s Josh Myers in 2:20. Central Cabarrus’ Noah Kiser eliminated Summers on a 9-6 decision.

Summers ended the year 42-14. He will start next season with 97 career victories. In 2019, Summers, competing at 113 pounds, went 39-14 with 17 pins.

In a year where Orange had many incredible streaks come to an end, this weekend brought about another. It was the first time since 1988 that the Panthers didn’t have a wrestler place in the state championship.

Last year, Levi Anderson reached the state championship match at 145 pounds, losing 3-0 in the final.

Orange returned only four starters from last year’s squad, leading to its run of 16 consecutive conference championship being broken by Chapel Hill. It was Chapel Hill’s first win over Orange since 1989, and they did it on the Panthers’ senior night on January 30.

Union Pines eliminated the Panthers in the opening round of the 3A State Dual Team Championships.

“We came up a little short of our goals this year,” said Orange coach Spenser Poteat. “I think we have to refocus back to our original thought process. Not focus on winning, but on our individual relationships with each other. A Strong bond between our coaches and wrestlers make success everywhere else easy. Its about influence…heart, love, kindness, and lots of hard work and sacrifice.”

Xavier Tinnen and Brendon Worsham reached the state championships for the first time. Worsham, a sophomore who reached the Mideast Regional Finals at 182 pounds, lost to Justin Beltran of St. Stephens in the opening round 12-2. In the consolation round, Milan Summers of Greensboro Dudley defeated Worsham 7-4. Worsham ended the year 31-17.

Parkwood’s Marcus Williams, the Midwest Regional Champion, pinned Tinnen at 1:29 of the opening round of the 195-pound championships. Andre Britt of St. Stephens pinned Tinnen in 1:40 of the consolation round.

Tinnen, a junior who finished third in December’s Jim King/Orange Invitational at 195 pounds, ended the year 22-12.

“Brendan and Xavier both fought hard and wrestle to the best of their ability this weekend,” Poteat said. “Kessel had been to States before and his goal fell a little short as well. I look forward to the off season and getting ready for the rising seniors of next year.”

Orange ended the year 24-4 overall, 6-1 in the Big 8 Conference.