GREENSBORO – Enka wrestlers went along with the sport-wide tradition of bleaching their hair for the state tournament.
Let it be known those blonde locks weren’t the only golden thing that the Jets took away from the Greensboro Coliseum on Saturday night.
The Jets’ bus rolled back into Candler with the program’s first team state championship – Enka won the NCHSAA 3-A tournament with 74.5 points, three more than dual runner-ups North Henderson (71.5) and Hickory Ridge (71.5).
It is also the first-ever team state championship for Buncombe County wrestling in either tournament or dual-team competition. And the last time a Jets team in any boys sport hung a banner? You have to go all the way back to 1970 (baseball).
“It’s a great ending to a great season,” said senior Chance Hannah, who wrestles at 160 pounds.
“There was just so much camaraderie with this team. We dealt with some setbacks, but we had faith in each other all along that we could do this.”
Enka wrestling coach Mark Harris returned to his high school alma mater in 2002 after previously winning a pair of state tournaments down east with Raleigh-area Fuquay Varina (in 2000 and 2001).
“This has been a long time coming, a long climb over the past 15 years,” Harris said.
“We brought nine kids down here as state qualifiers and every one of them won a match. We kept picking up points here and there. This community has been so supportive of these boys. And the future is looking bright.”
Tanner Revis (170 pounds) is a junior who had a grandfather on Enka’s 1970 state-championship baseball team.
“From the first day of practice, I could see that everyone wanted this,” Revis said.
“It’s big. We brought nine wrestlers down here this year and hopefully we can bring even more next year. It’s looking good.”
Enka sophomore Phil Daub (120 pounds) and senior J.R. Banks (126 pounds) were state runners-up for the Jets. Two other placers were Melvin Rubio (fourth, 106 pounds) and Michael Cantrell (sixth, 152 pounds).
Chance Cryderman (113 pounds), Jon Hall (182) and Hunter Kinser (220) also represented Enka as state qualifiers in Greensboro.
The Jets’ state championship comes on the heels of one for their middle school. Competing under the name Hominy Valley Wrestling, a collection of seventh and eighth graders from Enka Middle won the N.C. USA Wrestling Elementary and Junior High State Championships tournament for the first time earlier this month.