O’Neal commits to Mount Olive

Published 6:43 pm Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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For The Washington Daily News

After his only season wrestling for Northside High school, senior Jayvian O’Neal has committed to wrestle for the University of Mount Olive. He went from novice to the East Regional champion in the 185-lb. class and now has a chance to help a first year program.

“I loved the school when I went to visit,” O’Neal said. “It was a very welcoming environment and I loved the campus so I knew that I wanted to go there.”

O’Neal filled a slot in the 185-lb. weight class as the Panthers did not have anyone to compete in that class. He also competed in multiple sports including football and track along with wrestling. He was originally on the fence about wrestling but once he started, all he wanted was to be on the mat competing.

 “On the second day of practice, he thought about quitting,” assistant coach Mike Paul said. “I told him to give it two weeks before you quit, and after the first week he began to fall in love with it.” He said O’Neal had an adrenaline rush and kept chasing that feeling. After that first week, he fell in love with the sport and continued to dominate over the season.

Paul said his abilities were contagious on the rest of the team. He kept the team in high spirits by making people smile and telling some jokes. He also worked hard and brought great energy to every practice. Paul emphasized how much O’Neal grew mentally over the season.

“This sport takes a lot out of you and you have to be prepared for the challenges it presents,” Paul said.  “Jayvian has a great mental game, which certainly helped him this year,”

O’Neal believes he can make an impact in his first year. He is used to being the top dog and beating other competition in 1A. The college level will be a significant step up for competition. Jayvian acknowledges this fact and has embraced the challenge. “It’ll be a step up for me but I’m excited to start over and learn from my teammates,” O’Neal said.

He said his favorite memory at Northside was at regionals. After his great first year competing, he qualified for regionals and took first place.

“It was electric. I remember going back to the hotel after winning and celebrating with my teammates. It was amazing. It was like a dream come true, I am really going to miss this team,” O’Neal said.