SMITHFIELD – For most of us, one or two life-changing wake-up calls suffices. Smithfield High senior Chuck Sharon, the Daily Press All-Stars Wrestler of the Year, got about two dozen on the same day.
"The first thing I remember is waking up on a Saturday morning (in 2011) when Smithfield's wrestling team had gone to the Virginia Duals and getting up to 20-to-30 texts," Sharon said. "Every one of the (Packers) wrestlers had texted me.
"They said, `Come watch us wrestle. You might be interested.' I started blowing them off."
But Sharon wasn't getting off the hook that easily. Packers coach Chris Wiatt had heard about the then-sophomore who hit a ton at linebacker for the varsity football team and had body builder's physique.
Wiatt figured that was just the kind of kid he could build a wrestling team around, so he got Sharon's phone number and instructed every wrestler on the team to contact him. Sharon, focused on football and baseball, wasn't an easy sell, so Wiatt baited him.
"I told him he was a punk if he didn't come out and prove that he was tough enough to wrestle," Wiatt said. "He said he'd come out to practice for two or three days to prove me wrong, but said he wasn't going to compete."
Sharon took an immediate liking to putting guys on their back, something Wiatt says he did to his first nine opponents despite losing to them all. Within three weeks, Sharon, only 170 pounds at the time, had learned enough about wrestling on the ground to finish third in the Bay Rivers District tournament at 215 pounds. He followed with a fourth place in the Region I tournament to qualify for the AA state tourney.
"I felt that I was in control most of the time," Sharon said of his instant affection for wrestling. "In football you have to depend on others to do their job and I was confident about that this season (when the Packers share the district title).
"But when you lose in wrestling there's no one to blame but yourself. Plus, if I lose in wrestling, I know exactly what I have to work on."
Losses have been rare since that first season. Sharon went 32-5 as a junior and was 39-1 as a senior, winning 33 bouts by pin.
Along the way, he honed his skills in a camp at Penn State and competing for and training with the Peninsula Wrestling Association.
"I started out wrestling like a brute, like a football player, because all I went for was double-legs (takedowns)," Sharon said. "As I progressed, I started understanding the technical part of wrestling, getting (opponents) off balance.
"I love the wrestling lifestyle and being around wrestlers. My drive to never lose is what my coach talks about most when using me as an example to my teammates."
Sharon's only loss as a senior was a painful one: 7-3 to Zach Roseberry in the AA state tournament 195-pound championship match. Signing a full scholarship on Sunday to wrestle for NAIA school Campbellsville University of Kentucky will ease the pain and immerse him further into the wrestling lifestyle he once wanted no part of.
"I wanted to be Smithfield's first state champion," Sharon said. "Now I've got the opportunity to be an All-American or win the whole thing.
"I feel like I'm getting a second opportunity for greatness."
106: Hunter Wright, Poquoson, junior. Wright, 36-8 for the season, avenged a Bay Rivers finals loss to Tabb's Richard Harrell at the AA state tournament, where he finished fourth.
113: Kyle Boyd, Tabb, senior. Edged York's Brett Sommers 12-11 for Bay Rivers title, was second in Region I and finished with a 37-8 record.
120: Jordan Parrish, York, freshman. Among his 36 victories in 42 bouts, none was bigger than a 1-0 win over Lafayette's Kalide Endale for the district title.