The only thing that approaches the passion that Heath Gleaton has for wrestling is helping his dad restore old cars.Taking two years to turn a $200 heap of scrap metal into the 1989 Ford Ranger that he drives today is representative of the willpower that Gleaton shows on the mat.After near-misses in his freshman and sophomore years, the Central Cabarrus junior is determined to put his game into high gear this season and qualify for the individual state tournament. Gleaton is off to a strong start, winning seven of his first eight matches.“I think that I’m really dedicated to this sport,” said Gleaton, a 120-pounder. “I love wrestling. It’s tough, and it makes me better, and I want to do better to beat the other kids. It’s a very disciplined sport, and it makes you a better person.”On Dec. 1, Gleaton took second place at the Carson Invitational tournament. An old nemesis, Hickory Ridge’s Troy Gregor, stopped him in the championship match 7-6.After a season-opening forfeit win against Myers Park, three of Gleaton’s next four wins came by pin. His 8-1 decision over a Union Pines opponent clinched the Cougar Invitational at Southwest Randolph championship for him.Coach Ed Masterton took over the Central Cabarrus program midway through last season and recognized Gleaton’s talents. Wrestling in one of the South Piedmont Conference’s most stacked weight classes, Gleaton finished with an overall record of 42-8 and captured the conference championship at 113 pounds.At the Midwest regional tournament, Gleaton fell one win shy of qualifying for the state tournament.His two losses at regionals were to Gregor and to East Rowan’s Jason Deutsch. Gregor went on to finish third in the state while Deutsch placed fifth.Gleaton’s abbreviated postseason wasn’t like his freshman year (37-4 record), when a knee injury worsened during the season and led to season-ending surgery two days before the conference tournament. Gleaton was driven so much by the week he spent at the renowned Jeff Jordan State Champ Camp in Urbana, Ohio, that he went back for a second week. With Central Cabarrus’ program taking a summer break, Gleaton spent time working out at Appalachian State and also became a fixture at Vance High, training with coach Casey Boyle.Masterton was impressed with Gleaton’s grit, but he has seen a transformation from last year.“He’s at his best on the mat when he’s determined to work his moves,” said Masterson. “He’s so tenacious going after his moves. I think (opponents) have a hard time dealing with it. It’s just the way he handles everything.”Gleaton is headlining a reformed Central Cabarrus team. For each of his first two seasons, the Vikings have been hard-pressed to field a complete line-up. They’ve lost countless dual matches mostly because they forfeited so many weight classes.With 26 wrestlers this year, Central is close to a full lineup. It includes 170-pound senior Shane Lawless who, like Gleaton, won a conference championship last year but was knocked out of the regional tournament in the consolation rounds.One of Gleaton’s drill partners, junior Michael Burnette, is enjoying a fine start at 106 pounds. Freshman Josh Weinstein won his first eight matches this season at 138 pounds, and first-year senior wrestler Kenny Nieves has stood out at 195 pounds.
Tuesday, Dec. 11, 2012
Central Cabarrus junior determined to reach states
Central Cabarrus junior wrestler Heath Gleaton hopes to reach the state tournament this year. The 120-pounder won a SPC title at 113 last year. JOE HABINA
The Gleaton file This is what Central Cabarrus junior wrestler Heath Gleaton prefers: First or third period of a match? Third period. Takedown or reversal? Takedown. Balance or strength? Balance. Top or bottom position? Top. Dual or individual tournament? Individual.