With his brother Andrew hoisting him high in the air, Bandys wrestler Anthony Christopher celebrated a lifelong achievement at the Greensboro Coliseum on Saturday.
Christopher defeated Croatan's Kyle Colborn by a 6-3 decision to claim the 195-pound 2A state championship — the 13th Trojan wrestler since 1995 to claim an individual title.
Christopher said the post-match embrace between he and his sibling was special, especially after the passing of his father, Eric, in October 2010.
"It's priceless," Anthony said. "You can't beat it. That was my dream. I got it. It's nice having a big brother. He has taken the spot my dad would have had. I couldn't ask for a better best friend."
Andrew, a St. Stephens senior wrestler, finished as a state runner-up in the 220-pound weight class.
Despite coming up short of his own state championship aspirations, Andrew said his lasting moment from the Saturday will be the hug at the end of his brother's title win.
"It means so much," Andrew said. "We've had so much taken from us. We've come so far and overcome so much. I'm just so proud of him."
Anthony Christopher joins Sean McIntosh, Jarvis McCullough, Darren Burns, Eric Burns, Craig McIntosh, Byron Sigmon, Colt Howell, Jerry Stogner, Patrick McIntosh, William Gilliland, Brock Durfee and Jake Nelson as state championship wrestlers at Bandys High in the past 18 years.
Entering Saturday, Anthony and Andrew Christopher were two of four Catawba County prep wrestlers in the championship finals of their respective weight classes.
Bandys' Andrew Brotherton and Newton-Conover's Austin Klutz — both of whom finished as state runners-up — were also in championship matches.
Brotheron was defeated by East Lincoln's Jeremy Tarleton via a 11-6 decision, while Klutz lost by 8-6 decision to Carrboro's George Carpenter.
"Last year, I got fifth place and won my last match," said Brotherton, a junior who wrestles at 170 pounds. "This season has been awesome. I can't wait until next year."
Klutz, a sophomore whose brother Addison won a state title last year for Newton-Conover, shared a similar sentiment with the Christophers. Klutz also recently lost a parent — his mother, Julie — this past October.
Despite his close defeat in the 113-pound final, Klutz is proud of his performance at the state tournament.
"I know that tomorrow I'm going to feel great about myself," Klutz said. "Coming in second in the state tournament as a sophomore means so much to me after how much I've been through during the past four months. It just shows that I can push through and go as far as I can."
During both Christopher brother's matches, a banner that read "Eric D. Christopher 1970-2010" was displayed with their father's picture.
Anthony praised his father for his ability on the mat.
"My dad taught me everything I needed to get to where I am today," Anthony said. "I give 100 percent credit. This state title is because of him. I looked into that corner, saw his face (on the banner) and missed him, but at the same time, he got me through the match. It was the burden I had to bury. I buried it today."
After an emotional finish to his prep wrestling career, Anthony said Saturday was his fantasy turned into reality.
"Ever since I was a little kid, I had dreams of winning a state title," he said. "Not long after that, my brother joined in. We've been battling with a lot of tough things everyone already knows about. When I got here, I was confident. I came in and was prepared. I knew it was my time. I took advantage of it. This means everything to me."