Weasel ready for new challenge|Pack wrestling star to join Braves

Published 2:27 pm Sunday, May 2, 2010

By By KEVIN TRAVIS, Sports Editor
Getting his arm raised in victory more times than any other Washington Pam Pack wrestler, Justin “Weasel” Moore is excited to see if he can have that same kind of success on the college mats.
Moore, Washington’s all-time winningest wrestler with a record of 169-18, will take his talents to UNC-Pembroke. The Pam Pack senior, who won the 171-pound N.C. High School Athletic Association Class 3-A state championship earlier this year, is thrilled with his decision.
“I’m pretty excited,” Moore said. “I’m graduating high school, going to college and getting to wrestle. How many people out of Washington get to do that?”
Moore said the final choices came down to Pembroke and N.C. State.
“It really wasn’t that hard of a decision for me because Pembroke has a criminal justice program,” Moore said. “They had been talking to me for at least six months. They showed interest and had me there for a visit.
“I liked the campus and I liked the coaches. I think I made a good choice.”
Washington coach Dan Riggs said the Braves will be getting an outstanding wrestler in Moore.
“I know he worked hard for us in the wrestling room for the past four years,” Riggs said. “He was a freshman when I got here four years ago. It was pretty exciting to watch him grow throughout those four years.
“I’m pretty excited that he’s staying close to home. UNC-Pembroke is getting a good wrestler.”
Moore thanked Riggs for helping him become a state champion and getting into a good program at Pembroke.
“Dan has really helped me out a lot,” Moore said. “He really pushed me in the practice room and took me off to the side and wrestled me. He tried to make me quicker on my feet. He kind of inspired me to wrestle in college since he wrestled in college.”
The Braves, a member of the Peach Belt Conference, went 14-8 last year. Pembroke was No. 11 in the NCAA Division II Wrestling Coaches Association poll.
Coach Jamie Gibbs guided the Braves to a 23rd-place finish in the NCAA Division II Wrestling Championships, held in Omaha, Neb. Freshman Mike Williams (157 pounds) and junior Russell Weakley (125) finished seventh and eighth, respectively, to earn all-American status.
Riggs is hoping Moore can enjoy that same kind of success.
“He has to realize that he’s starting at the bottom of the totem pole,” Riggs said. “He just has to be patient and work hard in the practice room and eventually, when it’s his time to step on the mat, whether that’s when he’s a freshman or down the road, that he has take advantage of it.”
Moore expects to wrestle at 174 pounds in college.
“(Coach Gibbs) doesn’t want to make me any smaller,” said Moore, who is competing with his traveling team and going to a freestyle tournament next weekend and a tournament at Disney in the summer. “He wants me to get as big as I can and then cut down to 174.”
The Washington standout, who is also a solid high school baseball player, knows he’ll be up for a tough task when he wrestles in college.
“Everyone that I’m going to be wrestling is going to be as good as me, if not better,” he said. “I’m ready.”
Moore is ready for the challenge after a sometimes-boring senior season.
“It gets kind of boring when you go out on the mat and get your hand raised because they don’t want to wrestle you,” he said. “It’s forfeit after forfeit. I’m ready for the challenge.”
Moore, who went 1-2 at the 21st annual NHSCA National High School Seniors Wrestling Championships in Virginia Beach, is hoping he can get on the mat as quickly as possible.
“I’m going to work hard, try to do good in school and see if I can get a starting spot on the team,” Moore said.
Moore capped off his high school wrestling career in style, winning the state championship after taking a 10-1 major decision over Tuscola senior David Atwood. He went 44-1 his senior season. The senior was crowned Coastal Conference and East Regional champion, being named Most Outstanding Wrestler at both events.
As a junior, where he finished with a 47-2 record, Moore finished runner-up at the state meet.
Moore finished fourth at the state tournament his sophomore season, where he compiled a 39-7 record.
He went 39-8 as a freshman and was a state qualifier.
The success in high school came after a phenomenal middle school career, where Moore went 32-1 overall.
Along for the ride have been his parents, Lee and Melissa Moore.
“My parents push me to do well at everything,” Moore said. “They want to see me succeed, so they do whatever it takes. Whether it was going out to raise money to go to a camp or waking up at 4 or 5 in the morning to drive me to a wrestling tournament and paying God knows how much money to send me to wrestling camps, they are always there. They’ve been 100 percent supportive all the time.”
Moore is ready to wrestle at Pembroke, but will always have fond memories of his days with the Pam Pack.
“I didn’t win the most state championships, but I want to be remembered as one of the best wrestlers that ever came out of Washington,” Moore said.