Riverside’s Jaquon Sowell ends up on top

ewarnock@newsobserver.comFebruary 25, 2014 

— Riverside wrestler Jaquon Sowell said he’s not at his best when he starts in the top position. But the results say that even though he doesn’t get back points very often, his ability to prevent his opponent from escaping is exceptional.

And it’s why Riverside got its first individual champion at the N.C. High School Athletic Association wrestling tournament since 2010.

Sowell took his 160-pound opponent into the third period in the Greensboro Coliseum with the score at 0-0 and eventually came away with a 1-0 win in the second overtime.

“In my head, I was thinking ‘I’ve worked too hard to come out here to lose,’ ” Sowell said. “In matches against good people, I don’t score many points. So that’s why I have that mindframe where I’m not that good on top.”

Riverside’s most recent state champion had been three-time champ Tyrone Eatmon in 2010.

“Our whole staff wrestled at Riverside, so with that tradition, we’re really tight-knit with that family community,” said coach Brandon Palmer.

The Pirates’ Gary Whitaker helped Riverside finish 14th in the team standings with his third-place finish at 285 pounds.

Whitaker won a 2-0 decision against Eddie McGrail of Lake Norman in the state quarterfinals before getting bumped into the consolation rounds. He won a major decision, 16-3, over Wake Forest’s Brinson Allen in the consolation semifinals and then an 18-6 major over Southeast Raleigh’s Joshua Mack in the third-place match.

Northern’s Atavion Oliver decisioned Ryan Devlin of Lake Norman, 9-6, in the 182-pound quarterfinals but then lost to South View’s Malik McDonald in the state semifinals and ended up in fifth place.

In the 3A brackets, Southern’s 195-pound James Taylor decisioned Ethan Kanagy of Weddington 6-2 in the first round before getting losing a decision in the state quarterfinals.

In the 1A, four Voyager Academy wrestlers won their initial matches before losing in the state quarterfinals — Ronald Whitt, (106 pounds), Travis Bramigk (120), regional champion Patrick Tomasic (132) and Benjamin Ammons (195). Bramigk, Tomasic and Ammons each wrestled their way back to the consolation semifinals and ended up with fifth-place finishes.

Winston-Salem Parkland won its seventh state tournament team title — its fourth straight in the 4A classification. Parkland rolled up 173 points to 114.5 for Fayetteville Britt, followed by Cary in third with 71 points.

Eden Morehead won the 3A championship with 116 points to 69.5 for East Gaston. Orange wound up in third with 63.5 points.

Thomasville captured the 2A team title with 95.5 points to 95 for defending tournament champion Newport Croatan.

Chatham Central of the 1A classification made sure the greater Triangle area was not shut out of the team championships. The Bears claimed their first NCHSAA tournament title by edging Mitchell, the team they had fallen to in the 1A dual-team final two weeks earlier.

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