Log in Newsletter


NCHSAA wrestling tournament recap: Cape Fear High School makes history

Cape Fear High School wrestling coach Heath Wilson had legitimate hopes of bringing home four individual state champions from last weekend’s NCHSAA wrestling tournament in the Greensboro Coliseum.
But that was before the wrestling gods intervened and cut the number of Cape Fear winners Wilson was hoping for in half.
“It was an up and down emotional weekend,’’ the veteran coach said.
The up half was won by Colt veteran 120-pound wrestler Samuel Aponte, who took home his third individual state title, and 113-pound freshman Tye Johnson, who as far as anyone can recall became the first freshman wrestler in Cumberland County history to bring home an individual title.
The down part started the week before in regional competition. Mac Johnson, twin brother of eventual 113-pound state champion Tye, was unable to make weight in the 106-pound weight class. That knocked him out of that tournament and made him ineligible to qualify for state competition.
It definitely left a hole in the soul of his brother Tye.
“I was sad on the mat,’’ Tye said. “You had to deal with it face-on.’’
Tye said he got encouragement from his brother who told him this was his time now and he had to just get through it.
In the state finals Tye had a rematch with his regionals opponent, Elijah Dorsey of Greensboro Dudley.
Wilson felt Tye had dominated the regional match, but Dorsey came at Tye in the finals with a totally different style.
“He adapted and composed himself,’’ Wilson said of Tye. “That’s very hard for a freshman.’’
What made the adjustment even more impressive, Wilson said, was it took place on the huge stage of the state tournament, with action taking place on five mats at once as the Greensboro Coliseum crowd watched.
Tye had to overcome three misconduct calls on Dorsey, which didn’t rattle him and also helped him battle back from an early deficit.
“I knew it was going to be points and that’s what kept me in the match,’’ he said of the penalty points he was awarded. “I had to keep scoring because I knew they were going to call stall on me if I just stopped wrestling.’’
He said it felt really good to be the first freshman state champion in county history, and it’s already got him thinking about another first, becoming the first four-time state champion in county history.
“When I stepped off the mat I gave my mom a hug and said, ‘One down, three more to go,’" he said.
He’s convinced four state titles are a possibility for him.
“Just keep wrestling hard, keep working hard,’’ he said.
Like Tye, Aponte had to overcome a challenge in his bid for a third consecutive state championship. Shortly before the tournament, he suffered an elbow injury that left him wondering if he would even be able to compete.
“I had already set my mind on wrestling,’’ he said. “I’ve got another arm, two legs, my head and I’ve got hands. I wasn’t going to let my arm keep me from doing what I came here to do.’’
He felt empowered by a surge of adrenaline as he took the final step toward a goal he had set for himself as a sophomore. “I told myself then I was going to win three state championships,’’ he said.
“You could say he had one arm tied behind his back and that’s what made this win so impressive,’’ Wilson said. “He stuck it out.’’
Another Colt wrestler who gave it his all got hit with an incredibly bad break during finals week.
The Colts’ 215-pound Landon Sargent caught an unknown bug the first night of the state tournament. The day of the finals he was battling a 102-degree fever but gave everything he had before losing a tough 3-1 decision to Xavier Wilson of Eastern Guilford in the closing seconds of their finals match.
Fortunately Sargent’s wrestling career is far from over. He has signed to wrestle at the NCAA Division I level with Campbell University.
Aponte is uncommitted but has several offers on the table and was waiting to see when he won his third title if he’ll be getting any more.
He hopes to make a choice in a couple of weeks.
For now he took time to thank Coach Wilson for all he has done for him.
“He’s been with me through everything,’’ he said. “He really helped me become a better wrestler and a better person.’’
Cape Fear High School, Wrestling coach, NCHSAA wrestling tournament, Individual state champions, Samuel Aponte, Tye Johnson, Mac Johnson, Elijah Dorsey, Greensboro Coliseum, Freshman wrestler, Regional competition, State finals, Wrestling style, Adrenaline surge, Injury recovery, NCAA Division I wrestling, Landon Sargent, Fever during competition, Campbell University