After defeating Cleveland High and Union Pines in the first and second round of the state championships this past week, Northern Guilford advanced to the third round Tuesday night. The Nighthawks are now set to match up against Chapel Hill on Thursday.
"This is the first time in our high school history that our Nighthawk wrestling team has advanced to the third round," Coach Justin Harty said of the 3A NCHSAA State Dual Team Championships. He called it an "awesome night" for Northern wrestling.
The Nighthawks (46-3) won 75-6 over Cleveland High (8-2) in the first round, then took down Union Pines (27-5) 46-19 in the second. Chapel Hill is 22-5 on the season.
Leading up to the state tournament, Northern won the Mid State 3A regular season and last weekend's conference tournament, scoring 235.5 points. That bested tournament second place finisher Person (168) by more than 60 points.
"We had a really amazing conference tournament," Harty said. Six wrestlers were conference champs, three were runners-up and five placed third. Ten were named to the All Conference team.
"We placed everybody in the top three, which is a pretty amazing feat," Harty said.
Senior Heath Gonyer, undefeated at 138 pounds, was voted conference lower weight wrestler of the year. Harty was voted conference coach of the year and the team won the conference sportsmanship award.
In addition to Gonyer's impressive record (51-0 through last weekend), conference champs were Cohen Beane (44-5), a freshman wrestling at 113 pounds; Garrett Benfield (42-5), a freshman wrestling at 126 pounds; Max Benfield (45-5), a senior at 132 pounds; Cameron Kluttz (41-8), a senior at 182 pounds and Jacob Barlow (50-1), a senior at 220 pounds.
Runners-up were Kory Paschal (47-5), a junior at 106 pounds; Zac White (26-4), a senior at 145 pounds, and Owen Elwomger (44-5), a senior at 170 pounds. Third place finishers were James Poole (30-24), a freshman at 120 pounds; Tyler Kreuger (18-8), a sophomore at 152 pounds; Chase Crews (27-20), a freshman at 160 pounds; Conner Lachesky (15-6), a sophomore at 195 pounds, and Noah Lampkin (25-8), a freshman at 285 pounds.
All conference champs and runners-up were named to All Conference and third place finisher Kreuger was also named All Conference after receiving one of four at-large bids as voted by conference coaches.
"We've not been beaten by anyone in 3A," Harty said as his team heads deeper into the playoffs. "We're taking it one match at a time."