Cedar Ridge’s Martinez wins 113-pound Mideast Wrestling Regional title; Tatro, 9 Orange wrestlers qualify for state championships

Updated: February 14, 2022

Since he was a freshman at Cedar Ridge wrestling at 106 pounds, Fernando Martinez has always had a goal of wrestling in the state championships at the Greensboro Coliseum.

Now, he’s going to Greensboro as a regional champion.

After being under-seeded last summer at 120 pounds, Martinez claimed the 113-pound regional championship at the Mideast Regional Championships at Union Pines High School in Cameron on Saturday. In the semifinals, Martinez defeated the #1 seed, Person’s Christian Lemaire, via an 8-2 decision to reach the final. Martinez needed only 23 seconds to record his first takedown against Lemaire. In the second period, Martinez scored two near fall points and was never taken down in the match.

In the regional final, Martinez defeated Union Pines’ Jayden Crawford 9-7 to take the championship. Crawford registered two takedowns in the opening period to take a 4-1 lead. Martinez battled back in the second period with two separate sequences where he nearly scored a pin. He earned six total near fall points to lead 7-4. Martinez got the only takedown of the final period and survived two penalty points in the final minute for the win.

Martinez, who is 37-8, now has 92 career wins as a junior. If it wasn’t for the pandemic, he would certainly be over 100 career victories by now, becoming only the fifth wrestler in school history to reach that plateau. Martinez would be the first Red Wolf grappler to record 100 wins since Chandler Collins, who won a school record 166 matches from 2003-2007.

In addition to Martinez, Cedar Ridge’s Kaden Tatro also qualified for the state championships at 170 pounds. Tatro finished 4th. He sewed up a spot in Greensboro after beating Northwood’s Cliff Davis 7-0 in the consolation semifinals. Though Cedar Ridge and Northwood are both from the Central Carolina Conference, Davis and Tatro didn’t square off during the dual match between the two schools on December 1. Tatro, who is 35-10 with 26 pins this season, qualified for the state championships for the first time.

In the team standings, Union Pines finished first. Orange came in second place with 170 points. The Vikings wound up with 197. Cedar Ridge finished 5th at 76.5 points.

Out of 13 competitors, no less than eight Orange wrestlers qualified for the 3A State Championships. At 126 pounds, junior Dillon Heffernan received a #1 seed and finished in second place. After receiving a bye into the second round, Heffernan reached the semifinals with a major decision over Justin Richardson of Douglas Byrd 16-3 Friday night. Heffernan opened action on Saturday by beating Luc Young of Terry Sanford 10-7 to move into the championship round. It was Heffernan’s 30th win of the season. Southern Durham’s Shyne Wharry defeated Heffernan 6-2 for the championship.

For the third year in a row, Orange’s Brendon Worsham reached the regional final at 182 pounds. Worsham, who also played linebacker for the Orange football team the past three years, reached the finals after pinning the #2 seed, Demontrious Ratliff of Fayetteville 71st, in 1:12. It was Worsham’s third pin of the tournament. Cape Fear’s Jaden Paul, seeded fifth, defeated Worsham 15-2 in the regional championship match.

The biggest surprise of the weekend came from Orange’s Andre Hill, who stunned top-seeded Wade Johnson of Harnett Central in the quarterfinals at 160 pounds. In the semifinals, Hill polished off Samaj Jones of Vance County 10-2 to reach his first regional final. In the championship match, Union Pines’ Brock Sullivan pinned Hill, who is now 24-16 in his first year as a starter.

At heavyweight, Orange’s Hugo Vazquez also had a runner-up finish. Vazquez defeated Major Phillips of Northern Nash 2-1 in the semifinals when Phillips received a penalty point for stalling in the third period. In the quarterfinals, Vazquez earned another 2-1 decision, this time over Franklinton’s Landon Michael. Person’s Trevquan Gary pinned Vazquez in the finals.

Another Panther who earned a top-seed, Elijah Acosta, faced Northwood’s Jake Dunning for the fourth time this season in the semifinals. This time, Dunning managed to upset Acosta 5-2. In the consolation semifinals, Acosta pinned Fayetteville 71st’s Jamieson Alston in 2:49. Acosta held off Triton’s Malachi Nettles 3-1 in the consolation final. It was Acosta’s 31st win of the season, which is tied for the team lead.

Junior Acoya Isley also finished third at 195 pounds. Isley, 26-6 on the season, was sent to the consolation bracket after losing to top-seeded Michael Locklear 7-3 in the semifinals. Locklear eventually claimed the regional title, and Isley was the only opponent he didn’t pin. In the consolation semifinals, Isley pinned Western Alamance’s Chandler Baysdon in 48 seconds. Isley clinched third place after pinning Walter Williams Jeremiah Lumpkin in 43 seconds.

Another surprised occurred at 145 pounds. Avery Clark, seeded #7, finished in 3rd place. Clark lost in the second round on Friday, but weaved through the consolation gauntlet on Saturday to earn a trip to Greensboro. Clark started a day of four matches with an 11-5 decision over Dylan Stewart of Lee County. In the next round, Clark pinned Janson Tyndall of Triton in 1:45. Clark earned a technical fall over Edward Lopez of Harnett Central 16-1. Finally, Clark was awarded the consolation match over #2 seeded Jackson Lusk of Franklinton, who was injured in his preceding match.

Orange’s Jared Hutchins registered a 3rd place finish at 132 pounds. On Friday, Hutchins won his opening two matches, but lost a heartbreaker to Western Harnett’s Cameron Curva 12-11 when Curva escaped out of a near fall with four seconds remaining, vaulting him ahead after Hutchins had nearly scored a pin in the waining seconds. Curva would go on to win the regional title. Hutchins defeated top-seeded Ivan Benitez 10-6 in the consolation semifinals, then scored a decision over Union Pines Finnius McCafferty 10-6. Last year, Benitez qualified for the state championships.

At 120 pounds, Orange’s Braden Crawford finished 4th. In the semifinals on Saturday afternoon, Crawford had a thrilling match against Dakota Little of Westover, which went into overtime. Crawford scored an escape with three seconds remaining to even the match 13-13 at the end of regulation. Little notched a takedown with nine second remaining in the first sudden victory period to secure the win.

In the consolation semifinals, Crawford defeated Person’s Derrick Laycock 16-4 to reach the consolation final and his first trip to the state championships.

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