The 3A Mideast Wrestling Regional was an industrial shredder this year.
Of the 16 regionals across the state, the 3A Mideast was the only one that had both a dual team state champion (Union Pines) and the state runner-up (Eastern Guilford) in the same tournament. Throw in traditional powerhouses like Orange, Greensboro Dudley and Cape Fear and you have the makings of a field so deep, seeding nightmares became inevitable.
Orange senior Jared Hutchins earned the top-seed in the 132-pound tournament and survived, to the truest sense of the term, to win his first regional title at Union Pines High School in Cameron on Saturday.
In three dominant performances, Hutchins mowed through a deep field and scored a major decision over Logan Mitchell of Union Pines 14-6 in the championship match. Hutchins will be the #1 seed from the Mideast for the 3A State Championships, which will start Thursday afternoon at the Greensboro Coliseum.
This season, Hutchins won individual championships at the Eagle Invitational in Mebane and the Joe Via Memorial at South Stokes High in Walnut Cove.
It will be Hutchins third trip to the state championships. Hutchins, who is now 31-4 with 24 pins this season, finished 5th in the 2023 3A State Tournament. He reached the semifinals in the championship round after pinning Luke Connick, the 3A Eastern Regional champion, in the second round.
As a sophomore, Hutchins finished 28-10 and won two matches in the state tournament.
Hutchins, who eclipsed 100 career wins earlier this month, pinned Cristian Ramos of Douglas Byrd in 1:54 in the quarterfinals. On Saturday, Hutchins pinned Jameer Farmer of Person in 3:13 to advance to the final.
This season, Hutchins was a senior on an Orange team that had ten new starters. As a veteran, he remembered what it was like to receive daily lessons in the school of hard knocks from early days as a Panther.
“It made me better,” Hutchins said during the Tiger Holiday Classic in December. “It’s helped me get to where I am now. I want to place in the top three in the state tournament.”
Hutchins is one of three Orange grapplers to qualify for the state championships. At 126 pounds, junior Braden Crawford qualified for the second year in a row. At 175 pounds, senior Andre Hill also reached the state tournament for the second time.
Cedar Ridge, which had four wrestlers reach the state tournament in 2023, had a difficult day. Senior Kaden Tatro finished third in the in the 165-pound tournament, beating Hunter Macklin of Dudley 10-1 in the consolation final. It will be Tatro’s third trip to the state tournament.
Overall, Tatro won four matches in the regional tournament to put his career wins total at 159. He is now in sole possession of 2nd place in school history, having surpassed Josh Collins total of 151, set from 2001-2005. Chandler Collins holds the record of 166 wins.
Tatro reached the 182-pound regional final last year.
On Saturday, Tatro, seeded #2, faced Troy Shannon of Terry Sanford in the semifinals. Tatro led 4-2 going into the third period, but was penalized twice for stalling in the final two minutes. The second warning came with nine seconds remaining, which tied the match 4-4. Shannon got a takedown with five seconds remaining for the decisive points.
Hill, the #2 seed at 175 pounds, pinned Trenton Westbrook of Cape Fear in 2:34 in the opening round. Cameron Perryman of Dudley upset Hill in the quarterfinals. Hill had to win four matches on Saturday in order to take third place.
He scored two pins and two technical falls to punch his ticket to Greensboro. He pinned NaZiah Rice of Westover in 2;50 in the consolation final. Hill is 44-3 on the season with 29 pins.
Crawford reached the semifinals at 126 pounds after pinfall wins over Emanuel Garcia of Person and Hunter Hill of Harnett Central. Shawn Bass of Dudley never trailed in beating Crawford 4-1 in the semifinals. Crawford bounced back to defeat Jazten Hall of Fayetteville 71st 5-0 to officially reach the state tournament. In the 3rd place match, Joseph Lloyd of Union Pines defeated Crawford via pinfall in 2:42.
The depth of the field worked to the detriment of numerous competitors from Cedar Ridge and Orange.
Cedar Ridge junior Pierce Prescod came into the 120-pound tournament with a 44-9 record. If Prescod was in, say, the 3A West Regional, that record would have likely earned him a #3 seed (which is what Aydan Mull of Tusculum received with a 43-12 mark).
In the Mideast, Prescod got a #5 seed, where he faced Eastern Guilford’s Tremayne McNeely in the second round. McNeely won 5-1.
In 2023, Prescod controversially fell one match short of the state championships when his opponent, Carson Cori of South Johnston, claimed he couldn’t continue due to an injured back after it was returned that Prescod illegally slammed him. Prescod, with a 44-11 record, didn’t make it to Greensboro.
This year, Prescod also fell one match short of the state tournament. Facing Keaton Crawford of Union Pines, Prescod led 8-3 going into the final period. Crawford scored a takedown with 35 seconds remaining to even the match, then got a takedown 44 seconds into sudden victory to move on to Greensboro.
It was the final tournament for Cedar Ridge senior James Este-Wittinger, who reached the state tournament in 2023. Este-Wittinger reached the quarterfinals before being eliminated by Chevelle Cade of Westover 3-2 in the consolation quarterfinals.