At different sites across eastern North Carolina Saturday evening, 20 high school wrestlers out of Craven/Pamlico counties finished in the top four of their respective weight classes, qualifying them for the NCHSAA state championships.
The wrestlers will now have one more week to prepare for Greensboro, where the state championships occur.
Four local grapplers took home first place at regionals as Pamlico County's Nate Shaw, West Craven's Jayson McDonald and Havelock's duo of Kendall Frazier and Destin Flloyd were victorious.
The 4A East Regional Championships took place at Pinecrest High School in Southern Pines, where four of five state qualifiers (Will Dudley -106 pounds, Darrin Akers - 120, Eric Cabingas - 126 and Jacob Smith - 132) from New Bern took fourth place and 138-pounder Cedric Boyd won third.
"We got five kids into states and they all wrestled really well the first round and showed up Saturday at the championship rounds," New Bern coach Bo Lansche said.
"I thought Will (Dudley) had a really good tournament, he lost twice to the same kid by a couple points both times and wrestled back to finish fourth. Cedric Boyd came back strong to take third, but I think all five can go into states and do well with the right mentality, an 'I can compete with anybody out here mentality.'"
Down at West Brunswick High School in Shallotte, five Havelock Rams and five West Craven Eagles came away with places.
For West Craven, in addition to McDonald's first place finish, Daniel Adams (132) and Tyler Bird (106) lost close decisions to finish second.
Adams fell 10-8 to Fike's Rae-Sae Settles and Bird dropped a 3-2 match to Swansboro's Nick Butler.
Austin Ingram (145) came in fourth place after losing a 3-1 decision and Michael Woolley (170) won third place after a 10-8 victory.
"Scooter (McDonald) was down 2-1 and then late in the match, he got a roll on the Swansboro kid and put him away," West Craven coach Bobby Griffin said.
"With Bird and Daniel (Adams), they wrestled really good matches, just got edged and outlasted in the end. I tell all my guys going into next week that it's a new tournament, 0-0, and we have to stay healthy and wrestle our best."
For the Rams, to go with Kendall Frazier's and Flloyd's regional titles, Jashaun Boone (170), Krystian Kinsey (138) and Lamonte Frazier (160) finished in the top four.
Kinsey and Lamonte Frazier took third, while Boone came in second.
"We wrestled really well, we lost some matches that I thought we could have won, but to get two guys as champions and send five to states, it was a good tournament," Havelock coach Chase Holleman said.
"It was an emotional one for me, Lamonte (Frazier) is a kid that I've been waiting to give a state championship ticket to for four years and I finally got to."
Holleman added that Boone's performance was exceptional as well.
"Jashaun started as an 8-seed and two kids scratched and he got bumped up to a 6," he said.
"He beat Woolley from West Craven that pinned him at conference and for me, he was our story of the tournament. I think if our kids wrestle the way they know how to, we can be really strong next week."
In Princeton, at Princeton High School, the Pamlico County Hurricanes headed back to Bayboro with a first place finish, three seconds and a third.
Senior Nate Shaw was regional champion at 195 pounds after getting a pin at the 5:32 mark in his championship match.
Fellow seniors Mikel Smith, Anthony Davis and Michael Day, also qualified with second, third and second place finishes respectively.
Freshman heavyweight Javon Armstrong burst onto the scene to earn second place.
"Going into the tournament, of the eight we took to regionals, I thought anywhere from 2-5 could make it to states," Pamlico coach Kevin Knox said.
"My freshman (Armstrong) goes out there and upsets two state qualifiers from a year ago on his way to the finals and Nate (Shaw) didn't get a good draw but wrestled great to win it."
State championships begin Thursday night in Greensboro at the Greensboro Coliseum at 4 p.m. and goes through Saturday at 5 p.m.
Jordan Honeycutt can be reached at 252-635-5670 and you can email him at email@example.com