And then there were three.
After Tuesday’s State Team Dual tournament opening rounds, only three area teams remain in the hunt for a state championship.
St. Stephens and Fred T. Foard survived in the 3A, while Newton-Conover was the lone team in 2A to make it through.
The added benefit for these teams is that they face different circumstances than their opening contests. Newton-Conover and Fred T. Foard both host matches on Thursday.
St. Stephens will travel, but it will be a much shorter distance, as they head to Foard for their third and fourth round competition.
“Just being rested is nice,” said Foard head coach Mike Carey. “Knowing that you don’t have to get on a bus and ride for an hour and a half to two hours is also nice. Hopefully, our students will come out, support us and be loud. That should be an advantage for us. We need our fans to come out Thursday and help us out.”
With wins tonight, there is the potential for Northwestern Conference rivals Fred T. Foard and St. Stephens to clash on the mat again this season.
The Tigers and Indians competed on Jan. 28, as Foard picked up the narrow 36-33 victory over St. Stephens.
The two teams once again tangled during the conference tournament last Saturday.
Foard once again bested the Indians to win the Northwestern Conference crown.The Tigers scored 206.5 points and the Indians finished second with 158.5 points.
“You can’t get emotionally caught up in the first match, but in the second one, you can let your emotions go a little bit,” Carey said. “Our second match would be against St. Stephens or JM Robinson. We will get a little bit more emotionally fired up for that one.”
St. Stephens is no stranger to the playoffs. The Indians finished in the final eight teams last season and were a part of the final four in 2008-09 and 2009-10.
The Indians also have three second place finishes in the tournament in 2000-2001, 2001-02 and 2005-06.
Newton-Conover competes in their first match tonight against a brand new challenge.
Central Davidson (12-5) will be the Red Devil’s opponent, after they knocked off CVAC runner-up Bandys on Tuesday.
“We are excited to have made it to Thursday night,” said N-C head coach Eddy Clark. “Central Davidson is an opponent that we have not seen this season, so we have to be ready for anything.”
A win for the Red Devils and they may once again face the Piedmont Panthers, a team they lost to last season in the state semifinals.
The Panthers beat fellow 2A conference team Bunker Hill and are ranked No. 1 in 2A. Piedmont will also have to get past a tough West Lincoln team first in order to have a rematch between the two schools.
“We have faced both West Lincoln and Piedmont this season and know they are both very successful programs and are great teams,” Clark said. “Beating either team for a regional championship would be an amazing accomplishment.”