Minors help Red Devils capture first 2A dual title

A pair of wrestlers with the last name Minor helped Newton-Conover reach a major milestone on Saturday — the school's first 2A dual team state wrestling championship.

The Red Devils' Austin Minor managed to hold on for a 9-2 decision loss at 170 pounds, while Austin Minor picked a forfeit victory at 182 pounds to give N-C a thrilling 31-30 victory against Croatan in the 2A dual team state final in Newport.

"We have come through so much adversity over the past couple of years. That makes this win even sweeter," said N-C coach Eddy Clark. "We believe that we have been wrestling with angels on our shoulders this season. We have shown tremendous toughness, and I could not be prouder of this team."

If Austin Minor had lost by major decision instead of decision by giving up one more point to defending state champion Andrew Colborn, the Red Devils would have been tied 31-31 with Cougars after all 14 scheduled matches.

Going to an eighth tie-breaking criteria, Croatan would have won its third state title in four years.

"I honestly went into my match knowing it was going to be tough against the number one wrestler in the state at 170," said Austin Minor. "I knew I had to focus on my team, and when I came off the mat, I still had no idea what (my decision) meant until I saw Collin get his hand raised. I thought God, we finally did it."

Newton-Conover's Franklin Wepner, who is a defending state champion himself and also the reigning CVAC wrestler of the year, won his match with Croatan's Austin Meany by pinfall.

Wepner was later named the 2A final's Most Outstanding Wrestler.

"It's an amazing feeling knowing that I've helped the team win its first state championship," Wepner said. "I wanted to win it for our coaches because they deserved it the most. All the practices and matches we've been through have finally paid off. I'd like to thank everyone on the team and all the fans out there for their help. It's a day we will never forget."

Two other Red Devil wrestlers also earned pins during the 2A championship match, including Jonte Parker at 126 pounds and Jarren Pitts at 220 pounds.

The Red Devils finish their dual season with a 43-5 record.

Newton-Conover 31, Croatan 30

106: Ben Skiba (C) pinned Joseph Xiong
113: Grayson Mills (C) dec. Austin Klutz, 10-5
120: Alex Bray (C) dec. Coleman Carter, 8-6
126: Jonte Parker (N-C) pinned Dustin McCaw
132: Franklin Wepner (N-C) pinned Austin Meany
138: Brody McGrath (C) dec. Casey Toomey, 3-0
145: Nate Fallon (C) dec. Dan Avis, 9-5
152: Nathan Reitzel (N-C) maj. dec. Davis Blivin, 13-0
160: Rolen Benson (N-C) dec. Sam Slater, 8-3
170: Andrew Colborn (C) dec. Austin Minor, 9-2
182: Collin Minor won by forfeit
195: Kyle Colborn (C) pinned Andrew Gaither
220: Jarren Pitts (N-C) pinned Isaac Egren
285: Jonathan Rigsby (C) dec. Ah’Ron Hope, 5-2

Most Outstanding Wrestling: Franklin Wepner, Newton-Conover