Washington’s Moore pins down top honor
By By Eugene L. Tinklepaugh, Staff Writer
Justin Moore lets his grappling do his talking for him, and all that mat talk this season earned him the Daily News nomination as an all-area player of the year.
The soft-spoken Washington High School student expressed humility upon receiving the honor but did so with a quiet confidence.
He had some notable moments in his first season of prep wrestling, such as beating a couple of seniors “who I wasn’t supposed to be able to beat,” Moore noted.
Another big match the 150-pounder took was in the conference championships against the number one seed in the tournament, a junior from New Bern, Rudy Rutti.
During the season, Moore was undefeated in the conference with eight wins.
Rutti also went undefeated with a record of 7-0. The match-up between the two teams didn’t pit the two grapplers against each other in the regular season. A coin toss determined the top seeding in the tournament.
Moore lost the toss, but when he faced Rutti in the championship bout, he won by one point.
The match was tied 4-4 in the final period. An escape would give him the point he needed to win.
Though this was his freshman season, Moore has had big matches before. He’s been wrestling since the fifth grade.
Moore finished the season 39-8.
He has three AAU state championships and over 150 matches already under his belt.
The technique and fundamentals of the sport, he said, “came naturally.”
He just finished his first high school wrestling season and is already getting pressured to take the school record for best record.
Moore said he’s always been ultra competitive.
From checkers he got competitive about soccer and then went from the soccer field to the wrestling mat.
He said he hopes to get a wrestling scholarship somewhere. But for the immediate future, his goal is to place in the state tournament, something he fell just shy of this year.
Moore finished in the top eight, one win away from making the podium at the state competition.
He also wants to see the Pam Pack as a team improve.
With that factored together, he said he hopes the team will take more grapplers to state next year.
He also wants to move up to the next weight class and fight at 160.
Moore got his start with the Pitt County Buccaneers AAU program and compiled a middle school career record of 32-1 at P.S. Jones. He started his prep career by pinning his opponent in the first period in his first high school match.
The freshman captain — elected to that position by his teammates — earned a comeback victory against New Bern in the Pack’s last home game of the season. Wrestling in the 160-pound class, Moore was down 6-5 with 13 seconds to go in the third and final round. He earned four points to steal the win.
At the Class 3-A state meet Moore was one of five Pam Pack grapplers competing, comprising the largest group of wrestlers the high school has sent to the state tournament in over a decade.
Moore advanced to the regional championship round, where he finished as runner-up. He lost a 10-4 decision to Havelock’s Henry Steinman in the 152-pound championship match. Moore entered the tournament tied for a top seed, while Steinman, a senior, was seeded fifth.
When Washington battled Havelock during the regular season, Moore bumped up to the 160-pound weight class to face Steinman and defeated him by keeping the Havelock senior off balance the entire game.
First year wrestling coach Dan Riggs said he “put a lot of pressure” on Moore “because I knew how well he did in junior high. His older teammates looked up to him and looked forward to working out with him. And having him on the team showed in how the team performed this year.”
Now that he has a trip to states under his belt, Riggs said, “I think he can place next year. He’s got the potential to take several state titles or medals.”