Sports Spotlight: Inspired by his family, North Pitt’s Jones transforms into one of the state’s top wrestler
Raheem Jones is top ranked wrestler in NC at 182 pounds
BETHEL, N.C. (WITN) - “A lot of people didn’t think I was going to make it to where I am,” says North Pitt senior Raheem Jones.
Jones motivation comes from many places. Doubters for one, but mostly from home.
“Out of everybody that pushes me, the most it’s my mom,” says Jones, “Only reason that that is, I got a handicapped brother... he has cerebral palsy... with me having a handicapped brother there’s lots of responsibilities I got to take on. It’s just the love we got for each other that she pushes me to be the greatest I can.”
His two biggest fans.
“They motivate me so much,” says Jones, “Through all his surgeries. It was once said he wasn’t supposed to make it to the age he at now. With that being said to see that he is still here, he’s still doing good, it pushes me a lot.”
A drive to be great. A confidence coach Chris Young found out about 5 years ago.
“He came up to me and told me hey I am going to be a good wrestler for you,” says North Pitt head wrestling coach Chris Young, “I was taken back like man you are an 8th grader. You look the real deal but you are an 8th grader. What do you think? He says trust me coach, I’ll be fine.”
Jones confidence turned into dominance with lots of work his freshman season.
“I tried it and I fell in love with it,” says Jones.
“About January it clicked and then it became a different level,” says Young, “Out of nowhere we have a freshman that is going to hang with people to a freshman that placed in state his freshman year.”
Nagging injuries cost him the end of his sophomore year.
“It kind of hurt me because I knew my potential,” says Jones, “I knew I could make it to states and probably place in states again.”
His junior year, Jones was back to state but he met the wrestler who’s skills he aspires to have.
“He met the best wrestler in the state in the 2nd round,” says Young, “With the COVID restrictions, that kid was a 4 time state champion.”
“He wasn’t bigger than me, I wasn’t bigger than him, but he had more technique work than I did,” says Jones.
Technique and positive teamwork. Something Raheem brought with him to the football field this fall. North Pitt made the playoffs with one of their best seasons in years.
“Having the team having each other’s back, nobody fussin’ or arguing, it really brung us together,” says Jones, “and with that chemistry we got to do what we do best.”
Success which has brought more success. Jones is undefeated as a senior. He won the school’s Pierce-Davis tournament Saturday. The Most Outstanding Wrestler. It’s the first time he has won it.
“It’s one of the biggest tournaments in Pitt County,” says Jones, “Why not have fun while you are doing it?”
Nothing short of a state title, the only other tournament he has competed in he has yet to win, will do.
“We don’t look at the ratings because they can easily change,” says Jones, “I can easily lose. I can easily get that spot taken.”
The motivation is certainly there.
“When I get on the mat, leave everything on the mat,” says Jones, “Because once you come off it might be your last time coming off.”
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