Greensboro – Triston Norris won a state wrestling championship to conclude his magnificent high school career.
North Henderson 2021 graduate Norris won the 220-pound division in the 3A meet Saturday.
North Henderson finished seventh as a team and Enka was eighth in the state meet. It was held at Eastern Guilford High School, which is 16 miles from Greensboro.
Norris beat North Iredell Raider Elijah Hurt in a 9-1 major decision to finish 27-0 in this pandemic-delayed season. A major decision is a victory by eight or more points.
Norris put the hurt on Hurt. He lifted Hurt while rotating leftward to initiate what he termed his fiercest move of the match. Norris hurled Hurt to the mat. He pounced onto him for a two-point takedown.
Winning the state title feels “amazing,” Norris told The Tribune.
He won four matches on Saturday to earn the state title. He pinned his first foe. He won the next three matches each by major decisions. “I did nothing crazy. I just wrestled” shrewdly, he said.
Wrestler of the Year
Norris is newly honored by rival Western Mountain Athletic Conference coaches as WMAC wrestler of the year. He earned All-American honors with top-four finishes in three national non-scholastic meets this year. FloWrestling ranked him 18th nationally among heavyweights – weighing 285 or less.
He wrestled more at 220 pounds for NHHS. Norris pinned Enka’s Daniel Gath to help the Knights edge the Jets for the WMAC dual meet team title. Gath outweighed Norris that day by over 60 pounds at 280-218.5.
Norris’ state title was his first and thus his crowning glory as a Knight. He was second a season ago. He said that coming so close motivated him to practice even harder for months. “I had fallen short,” he said. “I had to give it my all, to take it to the next level.”
Keith Norris wrote his son Triston this match-day pep talk on Facebook: “You have waited 489 days to avenge a loss, you have not feared a pandemic, you have not feared a surgery, nor have you feared a man. God has been with you every step of the way … Many matches you have wrestled to prepare for this day. Now seize it, own it, for it is your day…” Triston said his father told him at the meet that “you know what to do. Don’t change anything.”
North head coach Heang Uy (“Oye”) said Norris had “laser focus on (the title) he wanted to accomplish.” The WMAC coach of the year said Norris acted as confidently and calmly as ever and paced energy between the four matches.
Norris said he thrives on conquering foes in a wrestling “battle.” He credits his “drive to win. You have to push it as hard as you can for six minutes” over three rounds. “More than likely, if do the right things you’ll win.”
Triston’s father posted A Wrestler’s Prayer: “Lord, give me the discipline to prepare, the power to compete, the agility to take the offensive, the speed to evade, the ability to endure, the grade of a winner and the pride of a competitor. Keep my body strong, and my spirit in tune with your will…”
Coach Uy said ginger-haired Norris blends “intensity” with a “sensitivity” off the mat. “You look at Triston. He’s a man-child. He’s a brute on the wrestling mat. He pushes everyone to get better” and cheers them on. “But he’s also a teddy bear. He also has a soft heart. He makes us laugh.”
Norris will wrestle for Appalachian State on a full scholarship and study criminal justice. He began a preparatory class on Monday.
‘Maxwell’s Silver Hammer’
Enka grad Colby Maxwell was runner-up at 195 pounds. The West Region champ lost in the state finals by 1-0 to Jayleen Bullock of Fike. Bullock scored the only point on an escape from a hold. That was early in the third and final period.
Maxwell was denied a likely go-ahead two-point takedown soon after that. “Maxwell shot in deep and was about to take him down” when Bullock suddenly called for an injury time out, Enka head coach Mark Harris said. Officials stopped the action. “We challenged that the takedown was imminent and was denied.” Officials upheld the timeout. Harris said grad Maxwell was “gracious” about it.
North Knights and Enka Jets finished next to each other in team points. “Our two teams were in ‘lock step’ all year” atop the WMAC and West Region, Harris said.
NHHS sent seven wrestlers to state and Enka qualified six. Each school had three wrestlers earn medals by finishing in the top four in their weight divisions. “We had a state finalist yearly for over a decade” recently, Coach Uy noted. North Knight sophomore Henry Portela was third at 120 pounds and grad Lazaro Vasquez was fourth at 113. Both won regional titles.
Coach Harris said, “our four seniors at state were phenomenal this season.”
Tony Torres was third at state at 160 pounds. Navy-bound Luke Artz won a regional title at 170. He “dropped a 9-6 heartbreaker” in the state quarterfinals, Coach Harris said. Isaiah Morris wrestled at 120. Rising senior Greyson Harris was fourth at 152 pounds. Torres and Harris each were unbeaten regional champs.
Last season Enka won the state title. The Jets won the 2021 regional team title. The Knights won the WMAC tourney. They won the WMAC regular season with a perfect 8-0 dual-team mark. Enka was 7-1. West Henderson was third at 6-2 and was fourth in the WMAC tourney.
Enka Coach Harris likes his returning talent. He sees North Buncombe fighting Enaka for WMAC supremacy as it did a decade ago and since NHHS, West and Tuscola are leaving the WMAC. Four Hawks are state qualifiers eligible to return. Freshman Jacob Nix (220 lb.), junior Stone Shapiro (152) and sophomore Ethan Robinson (126) made state. Rising junior Roy Johnson (285) did so a season ago.
WMAC Wrestling Wonders
WMAC coaches collectively chose these wrestlers of the year: 106 pounds: Tuscola’s Aiden Ball, 113: NH grad Lazaro Vasquez*, 113 at-large: West so. Damon Landreth*, 120: NH so. Henry Portela*, 126: NH jr. Peyton Fincher*, 132: North Buncombe so. Maykol Santi, 138: THS jr. Mason Baker, 145: Enka grad Eli Foster*, 145 at-large: NH grad Trevon Hill*, 152: Enka jr. Greyson Harris*, 152 at-large: NB jr. Stone Shapiro, 160: Enka’s Tony Torres*, 170: Enka’s Luke Artz*, 170 at-large: Reynolds so. Elijah Brown*, 182: NH grad Alex Mendoza*, 195: Enka’s Colby Maxwell*, 195 at-large: THS jr. Jadon Mintz, 220: NH grad Triston Norris*, 285: NH freshman Reece Meadows.
All-WMAC selectees with an asterisk (*) qualified for the state meet. So did West’s Will Parker (195), and Knight Ulises Vega de la Mora (160).
State 2A qualifiers included Hendersonville’s JuJuan Givens at 126, East Henderson Eagles Tucker Marshall at 160 and Brady Mathis at 113 pounds.