Person High School wrestlers Diego Jimenez and Marcus Vincent emerged victorious at Saturday’s Mid-State 3A conference wrestling tournament at Eastern Alamance High School, helping the Rockets finish in second place as a team.
Jimenez, the Rockets’ 120-lb. wrestler, won the championship match by earning an 18-1 technical fall over McMichael’s James Poole. Vincent, Person’s 285-lb. grappler, won his first-place match by pinning Morehead’s Caleb Archer in 3:24.
Rocket wrestlers Payne Garrett (113), Dawson Thibodeau (152), Karson Evans (182), Zackery Lieske (195), and Keith Thompson (220) all wrestled in their championship matches, finishing in second place. Garrett lost 13-0, Thibodeau lost a narrow 7-6 decision, Evans lost by pin with 12 seconds left in the second period, Lieske lost by pin 34 seconds into the third period, and Thompson lost by pin 10 seconds into the second period.
“I feel like a couple of the final matches could have gone differently,” said Rockets head coach Mark Litchfield Jr. “Dawson was really close – he could have got his guy.”
Person placed a few wrestlers in the third place matches, as Derrick Laycock (106) took home the bronze medal by pinning his opponent with 26 seconds left in the third period, Jailin Smith (132) medaled by pinning his opponent in the second period, Alex Martinez (160) earned an 8-5 decision, and Landon Lemaire (138) lost in the bronze medal match when he broke his arm.
“For the most part, everybody wrestled really well,” said Litchfield. “We had some tough matches.” Northern Guilford won the conference tournament, topping Person and Morehead, who finished a half-point behind the Rockets for third place.
“It was going to be hard to beat Northern Guilford,” said Litchfield. “I felt like everybody knew that coming here.”
Because of their performance throughout the season and in the conference tournament, eight Person wrestlers made the all-conference team: Garrett, Jimenez, Smith, Thibodeau, Evans, Lieske, Thompson and Vincent.
The Rockets continued their season on Tuesday, traveling to Southern Nash High School in Bailey for the first and second round of state team duals.
“You win the first round, then go into the second round, which I hope we can make,” said Litchfield, who lost Lemaire for the rest of the season. “If you win the first two on Tuesday, then the third and fourth round will be on Thursday. If you win that, the championship is Saturday.”
The state team duals see the exact same format as the conference tournament, with wrestlers from every weight class participating. The only difference is that if a wrestler loses his first match, they are eliminated unless they make regionals.