Vikings grapplers come up short in state title match

Union Pines captain, senior Aiden McCafferty wrestles against Fred T. Foard’s Zane Birtchet in the 170-pound weight class during the 3A State Dual Team championship wrestling match on Saturday, February 5 at Greensboro Coliseum. McCafferty defeated Birtchet by pinfall. Foard won the overall match 58-12 sending the Vikings home as state runner-up. (DAVID SINCLAIR/For the North State Journal)

GREENSBORO — A battle of top seeds in the state 3A dual team wrestling championships ended with the defending state champion claiming another title. The Union Pines Vikings faced the Fred T. Foard Tigers from Newton in the state championship at Greensboro Coliseum on Saturday, and the Tigers flexed their muscles as the defending state champions, topping the Vikings 58-12.

Union Pines (36-7) came into the championship match after cruising through the earlier rounds of the state tournament. The Vikings had earlier captured their 15th-straight conference championship before defeating Harnett Central, Westover, Currituck and Orange in the state playoffs. The Vikings earned the opportunity to host their playoff matches as a top seed.

Foard (34-2) came into the match undefeated against in-state foes on the season and had previously defeated Union Pines during the regular season. The Tigers were the 2020 state champions and there was no dual team championship in 2021 due to COVID-19.

The bright spots for the Vikings came in the 170-pound division with Aiden McCafferty defeating Foard’s Zane Birtchet by pinfall and in the 126-pound division with Johann Diaz pinning Parker Johns.

All three Moore County schools reached the state tournament, but the Vikings were the only team to advance to a state championship match.

Union Pines reached the championship with first- and second-round wins over Harnett Central and Westover. The top-seeded Vikings continued to host Wednesday and defeated Currituck in the third round. The regional final was also played Wednesday after the third round.

Pinecrest was a #1 seed in the 4A classification. The Patriots reached the regional final, losing Wednesday night to Laney 40-21. North Moore bowed out in the first round of the playoffs with a loss to Albemarle in the 1A bracket.

By Moore County Staff

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