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Three VCHS wrestlers fall one match short of states

Feb. 13—WENDELL — Three Vance County wrestlers — Jamonté Youngs, Antoine Doyle, and Maurice Jackson — all came within one match of qualifying for the NCHSAA Individual Wrestling Championship when the Vipers traveled to East Wake High School on Saturday to compete in regionals.

"We lost three matches we could've won," said head coach Charlie Carroll. "They had a shot of qualifying — it just didn't work out for us. We will come back next year bigger, stronger, and faster, and hope to get all three of them to states."

All but one Vance County wrestler — Doyle — lost their first match of the regional tournament, but the double-elimination setup gave the Vipers a chance to regain momentum as both Youngs and Jackson won their second match.

In his third match, Youngs achieved the improbable. Tied with under 10 seconds left in the final round, Youngs secured a takedown on the edge of the mat to gain a late and a much-needed win. Smiling through a bloody lip, nothing could erase the euphoric moment for the young wrestler.

In a long day of competition, Doyle caught some Z's before his third match. Managers Lia Machado and Selenda Banda monitor the scoresheet and keep the Vipers on track in the unforgiving sport. Providing nourishment and support, the managers commit many late nights and weekends to provide their wrestlers with what they need and wrangle their coaches when it is time to compete.

All day, Youngs showed great resilience, getting hit in the mouth multiple times in one match, and literally rolling with the punches, despite falling one match short of a state qualifier.

"I fumbled that match so hard," said Youngs on his last bout, clearly frustrated.

Youngs started the match in the lead after a takedown, but conceded dominant positioning and let the early advantage slip away.

Dreams are made and crushed in this consolation round, with a ticket to the state championships on the line. A lot rides on these matches for both coaches and athletes, as you see the intensity from coaches, competitors, and spectators rise with the stakes.

With Doyle as the only remaining wrestler still in contention for states, all eyes turned to the junior as he looked to clinch a state tournament berth.

In his win-or-go home matchup, Doyle faced Lucas Sumners from First Flight High School. After feeling him out in the first round, Doyle started the second on top. Doyle looked for the early finish with his signature cradle, but Sumners flailed franticly and escaped, scoring two takedown points shortly afterward.

On his back, Doyle was nearly pinned and was shaken up a bit as he was slow to get up when the action stopped. With two points awarded to Sumners for the takedown, plus two additional points for the near fall, the match was tied at 4-4 with over a minute remaining in the second round.

Doyle scored an escape point but was taken down again and trailed 6-5 with 20 seconds left in the round. Nearly being pinned again, Doyle was saved by the bell and barely made it to the third round. Finally pinned in the third, Doyle was left wincing in pain, grabbing his shoulder, and received medical treatment after the match.

The three would-be qualifications were no doubt a disappointment for the Vipers wrestling team — any one of those wrestlers could have been the first Vance County grappler to qualify for states since the merger. As a young team with only one senior, the shortcomings at regionals will serve as added motivation to their goals next season.

"I will qualify [for states] next year," said Doyle after his match. "I want my name as the first person from Vance County to make it there."

Final PlacementsJamonté Youngs (Jr) — 144 lbs (No. 8){/div}

Antoine Doyle (Jr.) — 190 lbs (No. 6)

Maurice Jackson (Jr.) — HWT (No. 7)