Hoke County becomes first-ever state champions in girls’ wrestling

Bucks win the dual-team championships

Hoke County's Diana Sanchez-Lopez drives Swain County's Elliana Norton out of the ring as they wrestle during the North Carolina Wrestling Coaches Association Girls Dual Team Invitational State Championship at Eastern Guilford High School in Gibsonville, N.C., on Tuesday, January 30, 2024. (Photo by Woody Marshall, News and Record)

Hoke County made history and will forever be known as the first-ever dual-team state champions in girls’ wrestling.

After crowning wrestling champions for nearly nine decades, the NCHSAA began the journey toward sanctioning a separate female division several years ago. The NCHSAA Girls Wrestling Invitational has crowned individual state champions in girls’ wrestling since it was first held in 2019.

This year, however, was the first time girls’ wrestling was officially sanctioned by the state athletic association, and a state team tournament made its debut. Hoke County won the East Region and advanced to the final four at Eastern Guilford.

The Bucks overpowered Mideast regional champion Jack Britt, 45-21, to advance to the state finals.

Hoke then had to come from behind to win the first-ever state championship. The Bucks trailed West regional champion Swain County, 24-21, but rallied with four straight victories by pin to roll to a 45-24 win.

Boys’ wrestling falls short in third round

The string of upsets for the boys’ wrestling team ended in Lumberton. The 11-seed Bucks had back-to-back wins in Pinecrest, knocking off No. 6 Millbrook and No. 3 Pinecrest.

That earned them a date with No. 2 Lumberton on the road. One win shy of the East regional final, Hoke saw its season come to an end with a 37-36 loss to Lumberton.