Championship bound

Former West Wilkes standout Rylee Billings, seen here against Queens’ Melvin Rubio, took third place during the NCAA Division II Super Regional II tournament on Saturday at UNC-Pembroke.

Rylee Billings can now add national qualifier to his list of wrestling accomplishments.

The King University wrestler and former two-time North Carolina High School Athletic Association state champion took third place at the NCAA Division II Super Regional II tournament on Saturday.

The tournament took place inside English E. Jones Center on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Pembroke.

With the top-three finish, the former West Wilkes standout qualified for the NCAA Division II National Championships. The event will take place in Sioux Falls, S.D. on March 13-14.

Billings wrestles in the 125-pound weight class for the Tornadoes and will be joined at the national championships by teammates Elijah Seay and Cade Ridley.

The sophomore, who finished 3-1 for the tournament, received a first-round bye and earned a 7-2 decision over Newberry’s Josh Acquino in the quarterfinals.

Billings’ bid for a regional title ended in heartbreaking fashion as he lost in sudden victory, 4-2, to Melvin Rubio, of Queens, in the championship semifinals.

But Billings wrestled his way through the consolation bracket, which started with a 9-4 decision against Emmanuel’s Mitchell McGee in the consolation semifinals.

Billings punched his ticket for the national championships with a well-wrestled 6-0 decision over Josh Vega, of Belmont Abbey.

With the wins, Billings improved to 22-10 this winter. He is 40-21 all-time at the collegiate level. He was also named the student-athlete of the month on Monday by the King University Student-Athlete Advisory Committee.

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