Stratford’s Young makes most of final shot at state
As much as experience and talent matter in high school wrestling, sometimes perseverance counts even more in the long run.
Stratford grappler Nicholas Young stuck with the grueling sport to reach the pinnacle in Palmetto State prep wrestling, claiming an individual state championship at 132 pounds in his last opportunity.
He was second at 120 pounds as a junior and was a state qualifier the previous two seasons but he’d never accomplished that one special moment – until Saturday.
“It was so exciting to finally get there to the top,” Young said. “I ran over and hugged my mom, and everybody else. I was just so happy.”
Young pinned opponents from Dorman and Lugoff-Elgin in the first two matches and faced South Pointe’s Mike Miller in the final at Anderson Civic Center. Miller had beaten Young in double overtime earlier this season.
But Young was not to be denied in their rematch. Young won 7-2, becoming only the eighth Stratford wrestler to win a state title and first since Daniel Sarmiento in 2005.
“I said ‘let me get this revenge,’ and that made it even sweeter,” he said.
He finishes his Stratford career as the leader in victories (166), breaking the record of 150 formerly held by 2004 graduate Caleb Capocciama. Capocciama and older brother David Carter, a 2006 graduate of Stratford, were instrumental in inspiring Young when he was younger.
His 51 wins as a senior surpassed the former season record of 46. He won his last 30 matches, including 20 by way of pin.
He’s been rewarded with a selection to the North-South All-Star Classic in North Myrtle Beach this weekend. He’ll wrestle for the Class A-AAAA South squad.
Teammate Noah Shuler was also selected to participate in the North-South matches.
Young has signed a letter of intent with Newberry, where he will be reunited with Wolves assistant coach Bryant Blanton
Young’s offseason work with Blanton, a former Summerville High School and Newberry All-American, and Cane Bay assistant coach Andrew Young at Lowcountry Wrestling Academy gave him that something extra to help put him over the top.
Young has a 3.95 grade-point average.
• Hanahan’s Dennis Flores finished his high school career with a third state championship on Saturday and really never even broke a sweat. He won two matches by technical fall and pinned another opponent in just over a minute to capture the crown at 170 pounds in Class AAA. He won 19-4 in the final.
He won state titles at 145 pounds as a sophomore and 152 pounds as a junior.
Flores is set to attend Newberry College too.
He will wrestle in the North-South All-Star matches as part of the Class AA-AAA squad along with teammate J.J. Johnson.