Newton-Conover wrestler Andrew Tremain is pinned to the ground.
He isn’t down on the mat, but rather it was his life off the mat that changed. Tremain, 19, was ruled ineligible to compete by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association (NCHSAA) on Oct. 15 because of his age.
Now, the defending state champion in the 285-pound weight class is trying to keep focused and look ahead to his future.
Tremain’s age issue was created when he was held back in kindergarten after moving to the area from New York. He also started late in school.
As Tremain got older, his wrestling prowess grew with him. In 10th grade, Tremain was fourth in the state in his weight class. Last year, in his junior campaign for the Red Devils, he went 50-0 with no takedowns and won a state championship.
On Oct. 14, Tremain celebrated his 19th birthday. However, the NCHSAA rules state that you cannot turn 19 on or before Oct. 15. Andrew was ineligible for his upcoming senior campaign.
“It was the only rule that the NCHSAA that is unappealable,” said N-C wrestling coach Eddy Clark. “I sat down with Andrew this summer and discussed his options about what he wanted to do.”
Tremain remembers the feelings he had all too well.
“Wrestling has been my life,” Tremain said. “It broke my heart. There was a real down, and it was hard to cope with that.
Clark tried to talk Tremain into graduating a semester early and entering college for the spring in time for wrestling, but Tremain didn’t think it was the right time.
“I didn’t feel like I was ready to leave high school,” Tremain said. “What I wanted to do was be with the team and coach wrestling.”
The former N-C wrestling standout turned his sights away from wrestling on the mat for the moment and channeled his passion into working as a coach at the middle-school level.
“I had too much knowledge to give,” Tremain said. “I wasn’t going to let this get me down. I was going to help out this team as much as I can. I wasn’t going to leave wrestling on that note.”
Clark prides what his former athlete is doing after his hardship.
“Andrew is great with kids,” Clark said. “The smaller kids love Andrew. He has been helping them out with coaching when he can and isn’t working. He has came out and helped us a couple of times too.”
Tremain continues to look towards wrestling and his college education. He has Appalachian State and Pembroke on his short list of schools and wants to pursue a degree in criminal justice and become involved in law enforcement.
“I’ve known this community for 12 years now,” Tremain said. “Just giving back to it for what it has done for me and helping out what be something I would want to do. So I thought criminal justice would be a good field.”