Local top-ranked heavyweight signs with Pack
Wrestling inks No. 1 heavyweight Eloheim Palma of Cary
Updated: Tuesday, April 21, 2009
The wrestling team's class of 2009 now features three high school national champions after last night's commitment from the No. 1 heavyweight in the nation, Eloheim Palma of nearby Cary High School. Palma announced his intentions to come to State during last night's Cary High Wrestling Banquet, where the town mayor awarded him with a "Key to the City."
Coach Carter Jordan said he was thrilled to receive the commitment from Palma, who entertained offers from defending national champion Iowa among several other national powerhouses, but said his work on the 2009 recruiting class is far from over.
"That's our third national champion in this signing class, so obviously it's got to be one of the top two or three best classes in the country, if not the best class," Jordan said. "And like I said, we are still not done, we just had a few more kids in [on visits] this weekend and a few more coming this following weekend that are all high school All-Americans."
Palma, who won the national championship at Senior Nationals in Virginia Beach after watching future teammate Dale Shull of Colorado win the title at 130 pounds, said he wanted to wrestle with the Wolfpack to prove he could become a NCAA Champion without leaving the state.
"I was getting advice that I needed to go out of the state to become a national champ. The only way I could reach that supposedly was to go somewhere else," Palma said. "And I respect what they said, but I completely and utterly do not believe that. I refuse to believe that. I have what it takes to win. I wanted to wrestle for a university in North Carolina because I wanted to represent the state where I have lived my whole life."
And so his decision boiled down to UNC and N.C. State, and Palma said it was his comfort level with the Wolfpack coaching staff, his lifelong allegiance to the Pack and his interest in the Textiles program that inspired him to follow in the footsteps of his older brother Jainor, a former four-year starter and ACC champion heavyweight wrestler.
"I was talking to both programs and both coaches and I just looked at where I felt more comfortable," Palma said. "And when it came down to it, I'm a Wolfpack fan inside and there is no way of going around it."
Jordan ventured to say the first ever three-time All-American and National Champion in Cary Wrestling annals is already as talented as his older brother was during his junior year at N.C. State, when he went 23-11.
"It is probably fair to say that Eloheim is as good now as Jainor probably was when he was a junior in college," Jordan said. "It was a hard, tough fight. We fought with a lot of schools [that were also recruiting him] from throughout the country, and I can't tell you how excited we are to have him."
Palma concurred and did not hesitate to say he expects to surpass Jainor's accomplishments and dominate at the collegiate level.
"It would be a disappointment if I couldn't fulfill all the things he has done and go higher, because he showed me the way," Palma said. "I never like to set limits for myself; I am going after the national title as a freshman."