After winning his first regional championship, Cedar Ridge’s Fernando Martinez has advanced to the state quarterfinals in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 3A State Wrestling Championships.
Competing inside the famed Greensboro Coliseum on Wednesday afternoon, Martinez defeated Ethan McCullough of South Brunswick 13-3 in the opening round of the 113-pound tournament. It was the first time that a Cedar Ridge wrestler advanced to the state quarterfinals since Darius McLeod defeated Zach Winterstein of Clayton in the 2019 tournament at 132-pounds.
Also on the opening day of the state championships, Orange senior Brendon Worsham pinned Tristan Marks of North Brunswick in 5:29. Worsham, who is making his third consecutive appearance in the state tournament, is now 29-6 on the season. This is the first time that Worsham has advanced to the state quarterfinals.
Overall, there were nine wrestlers from Orange who qualified for the state championships. In addition, Cedar Ridge sophomore Kaden Tatro made his first state tournament appearance at 170 pounds.
Coming off the regional championship, Martinez needed only nine seconds to get McCullough’s back for the opening takedown. After a restart, Martinez got a back cradle and earned three near fall points before McCullough got to his side. Martinez led 5-0 at the end of the first period.
The only danger that Martinez faced came early in the second period. Starting from the bottom, Martinez attempted an escape, but McCullough bodied up and drove Martinez’s back to the canvas, nearly getting his shoulders down. Martinez immediately escaped to go ahead 6-2. With 53 seconds remaining in the second period, Martinez was poked in the eye. After restarting from a neutral position, Martinez engaged in a collar-and-elbow tie-up and scored a reversal to go ahead 8-2.
In the third period, Martinez was penalized a point for stalling, but gained McCullough’s back again shortly afterwards. McCullough had both of his arms tied up by Martinez, which led to three more near fall points in the final minute.
Martinez, a junior, now has 93 career wins. He will face North Gaston’s Caleb Haynes in the state quarterfinals on Thursday.
Worsham, who was knocked out in the opening round of the 3A State Tournament at 182 pounds last June, will face Brady Ross of Central Academy in the state quarterfinals.
Of the nine wrestlers for Orange competing in the state championships on Wednesday, seven appeared for the first time. Only Worsham and junior Dillon Heffernan returned from last year. Heffernan, competing at 126 pounds, dropped his opening match to Asheboro’s Diego Gutierrez 11-4. Heffernan is now 26-8.
Orange freshman Braden Crawford (120 pounds), sophomore Jared Hutchins (132), senior Avery Clark (145), sophomore Andre Hill (160), junior Acoya Isley (182), junior Elijah Acosta (22) and junior Hugo Vazquez (heavyweight) all made their first appearance in the state tournament.
Acosta, who leads Orange this season with 29 wins, lost an 8-3 decision to Ledford’s Cory Cranford.
The consolation round will start on Thursday morning. Last season, Orange only had one wrestler place in the top five. Hayden Horne finished fourth at 220 pounds. Because of the pandemic, there were no consolation rounds contested in the 2021 3A State Tournament, which was moved to Eastern Guilford High School in Gibsonville.