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Wiley gives wrestling a chance – and turns into a state champion

South Brunswick's Jon Wiley went undefeated in the 152-pound weight class this season and won the state championship match with a pin. (Photo by Photo by Jeff Janowski)

Jon Wiley's journey to a state championship was unconventional, to say the least.

The first time the StarNews All-Area wrestler of the year hit the mat as a freshman at South Brunswick High School, Wiley knocked his opponent unconscious. Not in the kind of superior athletic display that becomes widely popular on YouTube, though.

"My first match was crazy. I didn't really know what I was doing, and that was back when as soon as they blew the whistle, I would just try to tackle the guy," Wiley said. "I grabbed him, tripped him and he fell backwards and hit his head, and he got knocked unconscious."

Wiley was previously a soccer player but tried out wrestling after considerable teasing from one of the team captains, Jeremy Roundtree, who had tried his luck on the soccer field as a junior.

"We would always compete and whenever we ran, I would always try to beat him," Wiley said. "He was like, ‘You need to come compete with me in wrestling.'"

Wiley wasn't convinced he could be successful but decided to give it a shot.

"My parents actually laughed at me when I told them I wanted to go wrestle," he said. "We had come from Pennsylvania where people were wrestling since they could walk, and they were like, ‘You can't start in high school.'

"They figured I'd just give up after a while of getting pinned … I fell in love with the sport my first year."

For two seasons, Wiley's approach was more reminiscent of a linebacker than a tactful wrestler.

"I would tackle people, and that would work on kids who weren't that great, but kids who knew what they were doing, they would just turn me around and take me down," the senior said.

Toward the end of his junior year, Wiley learned the necessary techniques to be able to hang with more seasoned athletes. The dedication helped, as he dramatically improved his previously mediocre record, and only lost to the eventual state champion by one point.

As a senior, Wiley went undefeated in the 152-pound weight class and rallied from a 6-1 deficit in the third period to pin his opponent in the state title match with 39 seconds remaining.

"The ref hit the mat and blew the whistle, and I just went crazy," Wiley said, who added that he told himself before the match: "If I win, I'm not going to freak out."

But, facing the possibility of another heart-breaking loss in the state championship meet, and with Roundtree watching in the stands, the dramatic comeback overwhelmed his emotions.

"I just went crazy and started jumping up and down," he said.

"Winning is a reward in itself; it's a great feeling," Wiley later added. "Everybody wants to be the alpha male. I mean, you don't want to go out there and get beat up in front of your girlfriend, but you get out there and it's just a pride thing. If you lose, it's all on you."

Story by Tyler Heffernan

All-Area Wrestling

106: Ronnie Dellinger, Sr., West Brunswick: 43-5, Class 3A fifth-place finisher.

113: Victor Sosa, Jr., Ashley: 41-5, 4A East champion, 4A state 4th place

120: Taylor Webster, Jr., Topsail: 25-19, 2A state qualifier.

126: Johnny Deveaugh, Jr., Topsail: 28-9, 2A state qualifier; East Central Conference champion

132: Josh Wiley, Fr., South Brunswick: 23-14, 3A state qualifier

138: Phillipe Frederick, Jr., Hoggard: 40-9, two-time Mideastern Conference Champion, 4A state qualifier

145: Luwolf Sanderson, Sr., South Brunswick: 54-6, 3A 4th place

152: Jon Wiley, Sr., South Brunswick (Player of the year): 51-2, 137-36 career record, 3A State Champion

160: Robert Sculthorpe, So., Topsail: East Central Conference champion

170: Homero Segura, Jr., North Brunswick: 24-3, 2A state qualifier.

182: Aubrey Browning, Jr., South Brunswick: 29-13, 3A state qualifier.

195: Terry Caldwell, Sr., Hoggard: 30-8, 4A state runner-up.

220: Bobby McRainey, Jr., West Brunswick: 26-10, Waccamaw Conference Champion.

285: Larry Williams, Jr., Laney: 30-18, 4A state qualifier

All-Mideastern Conference

First team

Ashley–Victor Sosa (113). Laney–Cory Wagner (132), Marcel Burns (170). New Bern–Nick Wheeler (106), Jon Sherman (126), Eric Milks (138), Max Stout (145), Pa Sanneh (152) DeMetreius Davenport (195), Chris Waters (220) Nick Zapata (285). Rose–Jamad Cradel (120), Elijah Conley (160), Jay Speight (182).

Second team

Ashley–Lucas Majkut (220). Hoggard–Philippe Frederick (138), Jake Thieman (152), Terry Caldwell (195). Laney–Schyler Wagner (145), Joey Wieble (160), Larry Williams (285). New Bern–Richard Turner (113), Brian Best (120), DeAndre Jones (182). New Hanover–Fernando Castellanos (132).

Player of the Year: Victor Sosa, Ashley. Coach of the Year: Bo Lansche, New Bern.

All-Waccamaw Conference

South Brunswick–Dustin Jones (120), C.J. Bryant (136), Luwolf Sanderson (145), Jon Wiley (152), Aubrey Browning (182), Brian Capps (195), Julian Birch (285). West Brunswick–Ronnie Dellinger (106), Jyquan Green (113), Campbell Alspaugh (126), William Edwards (160), Antuan Miller (168), Bobby McRainey (220)

All-East Central Conference

Clinton–Dominic Melvin (285). Croatan–Greyson Mills (106), Alex Bray (113), Dustin McCaw (120), Sam Slater (138), Jon Mancini (152), Andrew Colborn (170), Caleb Carpenter (182), Kyle Colborn (195). Northside–Juan Ramos (145), Trey Eason (220). South Lenoir–Tyrell Brooks (132). Topsail–Johnny Deveaugh (126), Robert Sculthorpe (160).

Wrestlers of the year: Tyrell Brooks, South Lenoir and Jon Mancini, Croatan. Coaches of the Year: David Perry, Croatan and Jeff Cobb, Northside.