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Whear, Lewis bring home state titles

The Nansemond River High School wrestling team finished runner-up in the Class 5 state tournament, which included two individual state champions.

For the first time in more than 20 years, Nansemond River had two wrestlers bring home state titles. Braxton Lewis and Aaron Whear each won a state championship in their respective weight classes, helping Nansemond River finish second in the Class 5 state championships. Second place is one of the highest team finishes ever in Suffolk wrestling history.

“This was huge for the program and for the kids,” Coach Tripp Seed said. “All the guys wrestled hard, and it was great for them. We were close to a team title, but a couple of breaks didn’t go our way. Overall, I’m still proud of what all of these guys were able to do.”

Evan Rawls finished third for the Warriors, with Matt Henson and Omar Mattox both placing fifth.

Lewis, a freshman, and Whear, a senior, were both ecstatic about the state titles they were able to win. Seed mentioned that Whear had set a precedent for the last few years in the Warriors program with his work ethic. Heading into his senior season, Whear knew there hadn’t been a champion at NRHS since 1997, and he wanted to make it a mission to bring one back before it was all said and done. His championship match went into double-overtime, and he joked about giving his family and friends heart attacks throughout the match due to suspense. Whear admitted it hasn’t quite set in yet. He’s still surprised every time he thinks about it.

“Every time I think about it, it’s like, ‘Wow, I really did that,’” Whear said. “For me and Braxton to be champions in over 20 years at school is incredible. My coaches never doubted for a second that we wouldn’t emerge as victorious. It’s exciting to see all the hard work pay off. I thank my family for always being there to support and my coaches for always guiding and believing in me.”

Lewis, like Whear, felt really good about his accomplishment. And, as a freshman, he has a bright future in wrestling at Nansemond River.

“All year, when I walked into the school, I looked up to see all the state champs in every sport,” Lewis said. “I told myself I would be the next person on that wall. It feels really good.”

Seed is excited about what the future holds for the Nansemond River wrestling program. In fact, he believes next year’s team could be better than this season’s team.

“It’s going to be hard to beat two state champions, but we want to continue to push and be better,” Seed said. “We have one champ coming back, and we have guys that finished well in the state tournament returning. That’s going to be huge for us. We had some guys that were backups that were pretty good. We feel good about what we have.”