There was hope for a storybook finish in the final wrestling matches in the careers of Cedar Ridge’s Fernando Martinez and Orange’s Acoya Isley.
Each of them accomplished something in their own right when they reached their respective finals of the 3A State Wrestling championships at the Greensboro Coliseum last week. Martinez, who won the 113-pound Mideast Regional Championship in 2022, became the first wrestler for Cedar Ridge to ever reach a final in a 3A event.
Isley, at 195-pounds, is the first Orange wrestler to reach a state final since 2019. It’s only his second full year as a varsity starter.
Unfortunately, Martinez and Isley ran into quicker, stronger foes that denied them their dream finishes.
In the 113-pound final, Jacob Kresicki of First Flight defeated Martinez 8-3. Martinez was going for his second win against a regional champion in as many days. In the semifinals, Martinez defeated Israel Guerra of South Johnston, who won the Mideast Regional championship on February 11 at Cedar Ridge.
Dylan Smith of Fred T. Foard defeated Isley 10-4 in the 195-pounds championship. Smith, a senior, finished an undefeated season at 49-0.
Kresicki, a senior won finished 38-3, scored the opening takedown against Martinez just 24 seconds into the match with a single-leg. Martinez got an escape later in the period. Kresicki tossed Martinez off a collar-and-elbow tie-up to take a 4-1 lead at the end of the first period.
It remained 4-1 after two frames. Martinez had an escape point conceded by Kresicki to start the third period to make it 4-2. Kresicki shot in for a takedown, and after Martinez went for the back, Kresicki gets out and got the takedown with 1:31 remaining. Kresicki added another double-leg takedown late in the match.
Martinez ends his career as the most decorated 3A wrestler ever for Cedar Ridge. He finished with 143 career wins, 3rd in school history. The only wrestlers ahead of Martinez on the all-time wins list, Chandler Collins and Josh Collins, competed when Cedar Ridge was a 2A school. Martinez also became just the fourth Cedar Ridge wrestler to reach a state final.
Martinez was limited to 24 matches in his sophomore year because of COVID-19 restrictions. If he had a full season in 2021, he may have broken the all-time school record for career wins held by Collins, who had 166 from 2003-2007.
In the 195-pound title match, Smith double-legged Isley at the top of the circle just 25 seconds in. After a restart, Isley escaped to make it 2-1. Smith did most of his work in the second period as he started from the bottom. Isley tried to take him down but Smith escaped and got the reversal with three near fall points. Isley got a reversal. but Smith escaped to go ahead 8-3. Smith was fresher down the stretch as he prevented Isley from getting a takedown.
Smith is a member of the Fred T. Foard team that has won the Dual Team State Championships in 2022 and 2023.
Isley, known as “‘Bama,” ends the year 34-3. Last season, Isley qualified for the state championships at 195 pounds but didn’t place. He finishes his career with an overall record of 57-11 and helped Orange to back-to-back Central Carolina Conference championships.
Orange junior Jared Hutchins completed a successful season with a 5th place finish at 132-pounds. Hutchins reached the semifinals before he lost to Jackson Baglio of Central Cabarrus in 1:12. In the consolation round, Kevin Orien of West Rowan defeated Hutchins in 4:34. In the fifth place match, Hutchins defeated Barnett Klutzy of Wilson Fike 9-2. Hutchins led 5-2 after he scored the opening takedown with 38 seconds remaining in the first period, followed by two near fall points. Hutchins racked up three more near fall points in the second period. Hutchins ends the season 28-7.
Cedar Ridge’s Kaden Tatro finished sixth at 182-pounds. Tatro had a rematch against Pisgah’s Landon Pope, who he faced off with in the opening round. After Tatro won the first match 4-2, Pope took the battle in the consolation semifinals 5-2. In the fifth place match, Tatro had another rematch against Trevor Schweitzer of First Flight. Schweitzer, who lost to Tatro 6-2 in the quarterfinals, won the final match 2-0 off of two near fall points in the second period.
Tatro ends the season 54-8. He led the team in victories this season and has over 100 for his career.