West Carteret’s River Carroll holds The Takedown Report’s Roy Heverly Award. Others in the photo are, left to right, The Takedown Report’s Martin Fleming, West Carteret coach Kevin Smith and Carroll’s father, Sean. (J.J. Smith photo)

MOREHEAD CITY — The presentation of the Roy Heverly Award during the West Carteret and Northside-Jacksonville football game Monday night seemed entirely appropriate and ironic.

The Takedown Report’s Martin Fleming presented the honor named for the former Patriot standout to a West wrestler for the first time in its 19-year history.

River Carroll, however, has yet to wrestle in a West uniform after transferring from Swansboro.

“Oh, wow, that’s crazy,” Carroll responded when learning he was the first Patriot wrestler to receive the honor. “I didn’t know about that. That is super cool. Mr. Fleming told me he was a West Carteret wrestler.”

Carroll is only the fourth county wrestler to receive the award, joining East Carteret’s Beau Studebaker (2017), Croatan’s Ryan Blackwell (2009) and Croatan’s Jake O’Laker (2006).

The Takedown Report gives the Roy Heverly Award to the top underclassman scholastic wrestler in eastern North Carolina. Heverly was one of the best wrestlers in state history in his time at West.

“These awards recognize the most successful wrestlers in the area each year,” Fleming said. “It encourages the young men from the teams in the eastern part of the state with another opportunity for others to realize the hard work, determination and discipline it takes to be a top wrestler.”

Carroll won the 3A 160-pound class state title last season as a junior after defeating North Iredell senior Chandler Jordan 5-0 in the final.

Carroll finished the season 60-1, while Jordan ended 47-3.

“I definitely worked hard for it,” Carroll said. “I had good coaches. My dad helped me out a lot. We would be wrestling till 10 o’clock at night.”

Heverly is the wrestler all other county wrestlers have been judged by for the past 42 years. He went undefeated during the 1979-1980 season on his way to becoming the first freshman in North Carolina history to win a state championship.

He finished third and second over the next two seasons, losing to the same wrestler each time, Grimsley’s David Schneiderman.

Heverly responded with another undefeated season as a senior for his second state title.

Those state championships are even more impressive considering there was only one state champion crowned in each weight class, unlike today when state titles are given to individuals in each weight class in four classifications (1A, 2A, 3A, 4A).

Heverly was named N.C. Wrestler of the Year and a High School All-American during his time at West and finished his career with one of the best records in state history at 110-2-1.

He went on to become a three-time All-American at UNC-Pembroke.

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