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All roads lead back home for North

Two-time L-E state wrestling champion headed for South Dakota

Posted: May 8, 2017 3:28 p.m.
Updated: May 9, 2017 1:00 a.m.
Tom Didato/C-I

NOAH NORTH SIGNED a National Letter of Intent to continue his academic and wrestling pursuits at Augustana University in his native South Dakota while flanked by his parents, Mike and Jill North, along with his sister, Emma. Standing, from left, are Lugoff-Elgin assistant principal Jeff Carraway, L-E head wrestling coach Ted Monroe and L-E athletic director Matt Campbell.

Noah North is proving that you can go home again.

A 4A state individual wrestling champion in each of the past two years, the Lugoff-Elgin senior never lost touch with his South Dakota roots or, his friends in the Mount Rushmore State. 

Following a brief stay in Indiana after moving from their South Dakota residence, the North family found their way to the West Wateree in time for Noah to enroll at Lugoff-Elgin Middle School as an eighth grader. In his one season as a Leopard for head coach Ted Monroe, North won a middle school state individual title and helped the team to a state championship.

As an L-E Demon, North broke Deral Brown’s school record for wrestling victories in finishing out his four-year career with 171 wins. Having virtually no worlds left to conquer in the Palmetto State, North will be setting up shop in his former stomping grounds for the next four years after signing a National Letter of Intent to continue his academic and wrestling pursuits at Augustana University.

Located in Sioux Falls, S.D., the Vikings’ wrestling program competes on the NCAA Division II level in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference and has produced 115 wrestling All-Americans. Recently, the school was selected to host the 2010 NCAA Division II Wrestling Championship.

While those figures are all well and good, there is another one which stands out. It has to do with the weather in South Carolina versus its brethren to the north. In March in South Carolina, the average temperature is in the mid low to mid 50s. In South Dakota during that month, the average high is 16 degrees.

Among the items North will be packing for college are warm coats, jackets, sweaters and pants. He laughed when asked about having to go out and get a new wardrobe which is more conducive to the colder climate.

“I’m going to need to get warmer clothes, that’s for sure,” he said of leaving the south. “I like the warmth but I miss the snow. I don’t know how much I’m going to miss the cold that goes with the snow but I will be glad to be around more snow again.”

A native of Harrisburg, S.D., a Sioux Falls suburb, the Augustana campus is a 10- to 15-minute drive from North’s former residence. And when the Vikings recruited him and he went for his official visit, the four-year Demon letterman was interested in seeing how much things had changed or, remained the same from what he remembered in having grown up in the area.

Even though he knew about the school and the wrestling program itself, North said signing with Augustana was not a slam dunk destination for his college years. But when he returned to South Dakota, everything fell nicely into place for him.

“No, it just happened,” he said when asked if he limited his college choice to only Augustana. “Things worked out the way that I thought they would with the school after they thought they wanted me. After that, things started clicking and I went back there.

“The idea was, going back, if it was exactly the way I remembered it from when I lived there, that’s where I wanted to go. That’s exactly how it was.”

Plenty has gone the way Noah North would have planned had he set out to put down his goals when moving with his family to South Carolina. He established himself as one of the state’s top wrestlers in any division and leaves with state titles in two different weight divisions --- 145 pounds in 2016 and 152 in 2017 --- while leading the Demons to a berth in the 4A Lower State finals this past season.

Monroe said he was lucky to have coached North for three seasons; the first at L-E Middle and the past two at L-E High School. He said North was a polished product by the time he first stepped on the Leopards’ wrestling mat as an eighth grader.

“I’ve said this time and time again, Monroe said, “I can’t take a whole lot of credit for Noah’s success. He came here with a special skill set and he was dominant the one year he wrestled for me in middle school. When he came over here (to L-EHS), the first couple years, he had some growing pains. But Noah has grown into a really good, really tough … physically and mentally … wrestler. The last two years, he’s been almost untouchable.”

With designs on being mathematics major at Augustana, North said what impressed him when meeting with the Vikings’ staff is the coaches’ concern for the student-athlete, as a whole. 

“They have great coaches and their coaches are involved in wrestling and academics,” he said. “It’s not a big campus but the main thing for me was being able to go to a school which offers exactly what I want in a major.”

North anticipates being slotted into the 149-pound weight division at Augustana. He said that he, presently, is a little less than 149 but plans on continuing to hit the weight room and build himself up to be ready for the rigors which come with college wrestling.

“Everybody’s very, very difficult to score on in college,” Monroe said of the transition North must make as he heads to the next level. “Those guys are very good at staying in position. It’s going to be about the pace. Going from middle school to high school is a big jump, now you have to make a big jump, again, in going from high school to college.”

“It’s going to be a lot tougher … that’s the biggest thing,” North said of his jump into the college ranks. “It’s tougher in every single position on the mat. Other than that, it will be continuing to wrestle the way I do and continuing to get better every day that I’m there.”

As North heads to college and wrestles against adults, Monroe said he expects North to do whatever it takes to make himself a factor in the Vikings’ lineup. He said North’s work ethic and talent is a tough combination to beat.

“I think he’s going to be bringing a good beginning skill set with him,” Monroe said. “Obviously, Noah has a lot of tools to work with. Obviously, Noah has a lot of tools to work with.

“There are a lot of guys who are going to have that same skill set there. Noah just has to keep doing what he does to separate himself and to get himself to the next level. He’s been a big dog here but, obviously, there are going to be a lot of those guys coming out of high school and then it’s going to be having to prove yourself all over again. I’ll tell you this, though, with his attitude and work ethic, I know he’ll be up to the challenge.

On this warm spring day in South Carolina, North laughed when saying that, “there’s probably still snow on the ground” in South Dakota. Then, both he and Monroe struck a more serious tone as they talked about what this day meant and what they believe the future holds for Noah North.

As for the newly minted Augustana signee, it is a chance to test himself at the next level while enjoying a reunion with old friends and former mat foes.

“It feels good. It feels like I’m going back and wrestling with the same guys that I wrestled when I was four years old,” North said with a smile.

On a day in which he said good-bye to his former standout, Monroe was thankful for what he meant to his programs and said even greater things await Noah North in college.

“Obviously, Noah has done a lot for Lugoff-Elgin wrestling over the last four years. Today is a really, really cool day to see him officially sign,” Monroe said. “Augustana is a very strong program in Division II. I think Augustana will do a great job of honing those skills and turning him into a potential All-American before he leaves there.

“We couldn’t be happier for him, although it’s going to be a huge loss for us.”

 

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