Pine Forest junior shines in NCHSAA women’s wrestling invitational

By Earl Vaughan Jr.

A friend’s misfortune became the gateway for Hailie Misplay of Pine Forest High School to become a state wrestling champion.

Misplay, a junior for the Trojans, won the 138-pound class in last weekend’s N.C. High School Athletic Association women’s invitational wrestling championships.

It was the highlight of a career that started when she was a seventh grader and encountered a male friend who came home one day with a wrist injury.

When she inquired what happened, he told her it was a wrestling injury. At the time, Misplay said she didn’t know wrestling was available as a sport.

For Misplay, who said she’s always been the more athletic member of her family, it was just what she was looking for.

She had been a softball player, but she loved wrestling from the start.

Girls still compete head-to-head with boys on high school wrestling teams in North Carolina, but three years ago the NCHSAA instituted a female-only state championship tournament.

Misplay was glad for the addition, feeling it gives girls more chances to compete and will hopefully prepare them more for the chance to earn college scholarships and compete in the sport at the collegiate level.

This was her second year competing in the invitational tournament. Last year she placed third at 132 pounds, moving up to the 138-pound weight class this season.

She wrestled three matches in this year’s tournament, winning all three by pins.

In the quarterfinals, she beat Savannah Hayden of East Forsyth in 1:06, and won against Alysha Earley of Alexander Central in the finals in a time of 1:22.

Her toughest match came in the semifinals when she beat Kenley Riley of West Carteret in 3:14.

“Going through all the tournaments, I’ve met a lot of fantastic women that I’ve wrestled against,’’ Misplay said. Riley was one of those. Misplay said the two had faced each other twice before.

“She’s really great,’’ Misplay said. “We tend to make a bond, an entire friend group wrestling against each other. Win or lose, we’re still going to be friends afterward.’’

Misplay said she tries to use a combination of strategy and tactics along with pure strength in her matches.

“I know if I panic or make a wrong move I’ll mess up,’’ she said. “A lot of it is just ingrained with the right mindset. Those are the moves I’m going to do; this is my game plan.’’

Misplay relied more on strategy in the match with Riley since the two had faced each other before. “She knows what I like to do, and I know what she likes to do,’’ Misplay said. “It was definitely a battle.’’

With one more year of high school wrestling ahead, Misplay said she’s ready to start considering where she’ll go to college. She also hopes female participation in high school wrestling will continue to grow.

“The more publicity that comes to it, it could definitely inspire younger females and even older females as well, whoever might find interest in it and something they can do,’’ she said.

Misplay is competing with two club teams this summer and plans a busy schedule of summer tournaments. In addition to her college hopes, she wants to try out for the U.S. Olympic team.

“I just want to go with the flow and see what comes up,’’ she said.

• Two other Cumberland County wrestlers placed in the women’s invitational. Diandra Tejada of Jack Britt was second in the 106A weight class while Ayonna McNeill of Westover was third at 113A.

• Pine Forest football player Blake Paul has been added to the East roster for this summer’s East-West All-Star football game in Greensboro.

Paul, a defensive back, was second team All-Patriot Athletic Conference with two interceptions and 42 tackles.

• Terry Sanford cruised to the school’s first unbeaten season in high school baseball this year and advanced to the second round of the state 3-A playoffs before losing to Clayton. It’s no surprise the Bulldogs lead this year’s All-Patriot Athletic Conference baseball team.

Head coach Sam Guy and pitcher Brady Gore took top honors as coach and player of the year. A third Bulldog, Nathan Brown, was honored as pitcher of the year. Here is the full all-conference team.

First team

Overhills – Hunter Beard; South View – Julio Rivera, Joshua George, Joseph Spell; Pine Forest – C.J. Collins, Keyshun Taylor; Gray’s Creek – Hunter Jackson; Cape Fear – Kyle Molivas, Israel Ortiz; Terry Sanford – Barnes Smith.

Second team

Gray’s Creek – Michael Hinkle, Cooper Strickland, Ashton Threkeld; Terry Sanford – Hunter Wiggins, Brent Smith; Cape Fear – Ethan Ashlock, J.J. Alphin, Andrew Kittinger, Cole Sutton, Zach Smith; South View – Zach Hall; Overhills – Brian Gloria.

Honorable mention

Cape Fear – Aaron Smith, Adam Little. Terry Sanford – Cameron Seagroves, Nathan Townsend, Cruise Herz.

• Congratulations to the following athletes who were winners in the NCHSAA regional track meets:

Girls

Kenya Hall, Gray’s Creek, shot put and discus; Jakarie Mullino, E.E. Smith, 100 meters.

Boys

Carland Jones, E.E. Smith, high jump.

The NCHSAA state track and field championships will be held today and Saturday at North Carolina A&T University in Greensboro.

The 1-A and 4-A championships are scheduled today with 2-A and 3-A scheduled Saturday.

• Congratulations to Jack Britt’s Marcus Novy, the only Cumberland County player named to this year’s Sandhills Athletic Conference all-conference baseball team.

Novy was the leading hitter from Cumberland County Schools, batting .481 with two home runs, four doubles and five RBIs.

The teams and game times have been set for the two N.C. High School Athletic Association state baseball championship series that will be hosted at Fayetteville’s J.P. Riddle Stadium this weekend.

Fayetteville was awarded the 3-A title series between Greenville Rose and Concord Cox Mill and the 1-A series between Perquimans and East Surry.

Play will begin at 5 p.m. today with Rose playing Cox Mill, followed at 8 p.m. by Perquimans and East Surry. Rose and Perquimans will be the home teams in those games.

Play resumes Saturday at 11 a.m. with Rose and Cox Mill playing and Cox Mill getting home. Perquimans and East Surry follow at 2 p.m. with East Surry home.

If either series goes three games, the tentative schedule would be for Rose and Cox Mill to play at 5 p.m. Saturday and Perquimans and East Surry at 8 p.m.