Vikings’ Gleaton yearns for 2nd state title
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Tuesday, Jan. 21, 2014

Vikings’ Gleaton yearns for 2nd state title

Heath Gleaton spent last year transforming himself into a wrestling state champion. In 2014, he’d like to establish himself as the best wrestler in Central Cabarrus High’s history.

In 2013, the Vikings’ 113-pounder won the 3A state championship, his first. Now competing at 120 pounds as a senior, Gleaton is undefeated and yearns to become Central Cabarrus’ first two-time state champ.

As of Jan. 12, Central Cabarrus had a few dual meets left on its schedule before the South Piedmont 3A conference tournament on Feb. 1 at Hickory Ridge. The 3A Midwest Regional will also be held at Hickory Ridge, and the state tournament will run Feb. 20-22 in Greensboro.

Highlighting Gleaton’s season are most outstanding wrestler awards at three different individual tournaments. He took honors at the Providence Invitational in November, the Mount Pleasant Invitational in December and the prestigious Holy Angels Tournament at Charlotte’s Bojangles’ Coliseum on Jan. 3-4.

Gleaton was undefeated through his first 31 matches, giving him 157 victories in his career. The school career victories record set by 2005 graduate Richie Apolinar could be within reach.

After his 2013 state championship season, during which he posted a 45-2 record, Gleaton dedicated himself to polishing his game through continuous strenuous training and competition with the Charlotte-based Darkhorse Wrestling team.

“I’m trying to improve my skill with footwork and getting better with different shots and different moves,” Gleaton said. “Having more motion and better hand fighting is what I worked on the most.”

Gleaton spent a couple weeks in July training and serving as a counselor at the renowned Jeff Jordan State Champ Camp in Urbana, Ohio. Later in the month, Gleaton posted a perfect 10-0 record at the All-American Summer Duals in Fayetteville, helping lead Darkhorse to the team championship.

At the Super 32 Challenge in October, Gleaton lost his first match and wrestled through the consolation rounds to finish with a 3-2 mark. He recorded two decisions and a major decision against two decision losses.

“I think he came into the (high school) season looking to improve,” Central coach Ed Masterton said. “He already had a lot of good technique, he just wanted to clean up and be as polished as he could be. He certainly has the goal of being a state champion again.”

With his improved footwork and moves, Gleaton says it is no longer a goal to always pin his opponents. Instead, he says accumulating the 15-point advantage against an opponent to win by technical fall displays his wide-ranging abilities as a wrestler.

“I feel it gives me an opportunity to show more of what I’m about,” Gleaton said. “A lot (wrestlers) can go out and make one good move and pin someone. But (wrestling technically) shows more that you can go out there and score and score and score.”

Gleaton’s approach works for him. Of his first 31 wins, seven were by technical fall and 14 were by pin.

Not all of the competition has been up to Gleaton’s standards. But he had to fight hard to win the Holy Angels Tournament. He received the most outstanding wrestler award for the lower weights for the second time in three years.

In the tournament’s semifinals, Gleaton grabbed a 6-2 decision from Morehead’s Jordan Jones, a senior who has a 34-3 record. In the championship match, Gleaton registered a technical fall over Jay M. Robinson’s David Cline, who was a 3A state champion at 106 pounds last year.

Gleaton is working hard to impress college coaches. He has drawn interest from Belmont Abbey, UNC Pembroke, Ferrum, Tennessee-Chattanooga and N.C. State, where he took an official visit in November.

Joe Habina is a freelance writer. Have a story idea for Joe? Email him at joehabina@yahoo.com.

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