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WINSTON-SALEM-- One of the biggest single high school sporting events in the Southeast is scheduled for the Lawrence Joel Veterans Memorial Coliseum this weekend.
The North Carolina High School Athletic Association's annual state wrestling championships are scheduled for Friday and Saturday, bringing together over 600 of the state's best prep grapplers for two full days of competition. Over 1,100 individual matches will be contested over the course of the event en route to crowning 42 different individual champions. That means there is one winner in each of the NCHSAA's 14 weight divisions and three different classifications, including 1-A and 2-A together for wrestling, 3-A, and 4-A.
Wrestling will start at 9 a.m. on Friday and will run until Saturday evening with the consolation and championship finals starting at 6 p.m. This is the 21st year that the wrestling championships have been "classified"; prior to 1987, all wrestlers, regardless of the size of the school, competed for a single title. This is the fifth year that Lawrence Joel Coliseum has hosted the event.
Wendy's and the Carolina Ford Dealers are the presenting sponsors for the NCHSAA sports program, and the event is sponsored by the Greater Winston-Salem Sports Commission, the city of Winston-Salem and the Winston-Salem Convention and Visitors Bureau.
The NCHSAA, with a strong tradition in wrestling, has been offering a championship in the sport since the 1930's.
Cary has won the team tournament championship at the 4-A level three times in the last four years years, while Eden Morehead is the defending 3-A team champ and has three titles in the last nine years. Catawba Bandys has won or shared the 1-A/2-A crown in each of the past three state tournaments.
A number of returning state champions are back in the field for this yearís tournament. Travis Coffey of 4-A Watauga at 119 pounds is a two-time state champ, as is senior Jared Grigg of 4-A East Gaston at 125 pounds. A pair of seniors in the 160-pound weight class, Chris Bullins of McMichael in the 1-A/2-A event and East Gastonís Justin Sparrow at 4-A, have each earned three previous state championships.
Earlier this month, Cary (4-A), Winston-Salem Parkland (3-A), Mayodan Dalton McMichael (2-A) and Alleghany (1-A) won their respective classifications in the dual team championships and will obviously be very competitive in the tournament.