Statesville’s first regional champion wrestler in a decade craves more | Local

Brian Meadows

Statesville senior Parker Galliher is about to head into his second NC High School Athletic Association state wrestling tournament in as many years. The event, held at Greensboro Coliseum, kicks off Thursday afternoon and ends Saturday night.

As a junior, Galliher qualified third in his region. But losing his first game in the Round of 16, he did not advance to the state tournament, which is traditionally double-elimination, but the NCHSAA changed the format last year due to COVID. Only the semi-finalists were guaranteed another game if they lost.

The pandemic caused the number of games to plummet a year ago. If not, Galliher could be even higher on the Greyhounds’ all-time winning list. He has 148 wins. This ranks third. The record, held by Ben Madison, is 184.

“If we had had a real season,” Statesville coach Andrew Collins said before taking a break. “Who knows?”

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Galliher will represent the Greyhounds in Greensboro as the first regional champion since Markus Cromwell in 2012. Cromwell also won his last state title that year, before being crowned champion after finishing first in 3A at 170 pounds.

Thanks to a 4-0 record last weekend, which included pinning each of his first three opponents, Galliher won the Region 3A West championship at 126 pounds.

The major 15-2 decision in the region final over East Henderson’s Gunner Marshall sealed the title and raised Galliher’s season record to 48-2.

Certainly, his expectations are high for the state tournament, which returns to its long-established structure.

“Win it all. I had that hope since before freshman year,” Galliher said. “When you win your regional final, you want to go all the way and win it all.”

Ranked #2 in 3A at 126 pounds by, Galliher honed his skills as a club wrestler training with the Iredell Rattlers and Combat Athletics.

The fact that he wasn’t on a college team at the American Renaissance School before arriving in Statesville as a freshman didn’t hold him back, according to Collins.

“He came in as a good wrestler,” Collins said. “He knew how to fight. He worked hard.

“He found the best people to wrestle with,” Collins continued, mentioning Greyhounds sparring partners Antonio Caldwell – the State 3A runner-up at 132 pounds last year – and Joe Dishman. “And he trained all year.”

Galliher’s final season got off to a less than desirable start on November 16, 2021. In his debut, East Rowan’s Luke Heglar picked up a major 9-0 decision victory over him.

The two paths crossed again on January 26. Galliher avenged the loss, winning a 5-1 decision over Heglar.

“It was rewarding. To take a loss like I did at the start (of the season) was devastating,” Galliher said. “It kind of crossed my mind. But I was determined to bounce back.

He did so, winning 17 in a row – 11 by fall – before suffering his only other defeat.

Galliher is riding a 31-game winning streak in the state tournament. He’s pinned 19 of his opponents during that streak. Three other victories came by major decision and two by technical fall.

“I feel like I’m at my peak,” Galliher said. “I shoot everything and fight with my heart.

“I just want to fight my game,” he added when asked about strategy this week. “I don’t know many of these children. I just want to leave it all there on the carpet.

Robert J. King