MOREHEAD CITY — West Carteret’s sixth-year wrestling coach Kevin Smith has been here before.
After graduating four seniors with a combined 198-24 (.891) record that helped capture the school its first 3A east regional title in 22 years, the Patriots are hitting the figurative reset button with an inexperienced roster.
“We’re going to be a young but spirited group,” Smith said. “We’ll have some older guys but not a lot of experience. I’m cautiously optimistic. We lost our “four horsemen,” which is about 200 wins we’re losing. That’s a lot.”
West is coming off a stellar season in which it produce three regional champions and won its third straight 3A Coastal Conference victory with its second tournament win in three years.
OCEAN — The Croatan wrestling team is gearing up for a third straight run at a dual team state championship.
Runners-up in the 2A tournament the last two years, the Cougars will lean on a hefty, experienced roster that only graduated two starters in the spring.
The Cougars are coming off an incredible run in 2017-2019, reaching the 2A dual team state championship match twice (2018, 2017), winning two straight regional titles and placing fourth last season.
Croatan lost the dual team state championship to West Lincoln 60-14, one year after losing to the same program 54-16.
“We have high expectations,” Croatan 22-year coach David Perry said. “We always want to battle for a state title. That’s the goal. Right now, we’re mainly trying to catch up some of the younger kids and fine-tune the older guys. This early in the season, we’re just trying to get those guys to do what they do a little better.”
BEAUFORT — Things are looking up for the East Carteret wrestling team entering the 2019-2020 season with a talented roster and a new experienced assistant coach.
The Mariners bring back six of their top seven wrestlers from last year’s squad, in addition to some incoming talent, and also add longtime West Carteret coach Dan Varner to the staff.
“We picked a really green guy to help out,” sixth-year East coach Harrison Smith joked. “He volunteered to come out and help, and he’s doing an excellent job.”
Varner spent almost a decade as the head coach at West – he was also an assistant for a number of years – during two stints (2001-2005, 2010-2013).
In that time, he led the Patriots to four top-five finishes at the individual state tournament with the team taking third on two occasions (2005, 2011), second (2006) and fourth (2004). The club also made it to the dual-team state semifinals twice (2003, 2004).
He’s spent the last handful of years refereeing.
SNOW HILL — The Croatan boys soccer team advanced to the second round of the 2A state playoffs Wednesday with a 4-2 road win over Greene Central.
The Cougars (14-5-2) entered the tournament as the No. 17 seed after finishing second in a weak 1A/2A Coastal 8 Conference. That earned them a matchup with No. 16 Greene Central (18-4), which also finished second in its 2A Eastern Carolina Conference.
“Great performance from the boys to come out on the road and beat a higher seed,” Croatan coach Paul Slater said. “Our nonconference schedule is definitely helping us in the playoffs.”
ROBBINS — The East Carteret boys soccer team couldn’t hold on to a 2-1 halftime lead Wednesday in the first round of the 1A playoffs and saw its season come to a close with a 3-2 loss to North Moore.
The Mariners end the year 5-12 but went 5-6 in their last 11 games with a young group that included eight freshmen and six sophomores on a 22-man roster.
“With so many underclassmen, the future is looking bright as long as the young players play in the offseason, which is the first thing we told them after the game was over,” East coach Antonio Diaz said.
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