Belville wraps up stellar season, career with Patriots
by Andrew Stark
Casey Belville went into the 2011-12 campaign already holding the Independence wrestling program’s record for wins in a season. But he had his sights set higher: He wanted to top his previous single-season mark, finish the year as a state champion and become the all-time wins leader for the Patriots.
He accomplished more than he could have imagined.
Although Belville fell short of his state championship aspirations, he had one of the best seasons in the program’s history, as he won a regional title and finished third at the Class 4A state meet. He also became Independence’s career-wins leader with 154.
“I couldn’t be more proud of him,” said Patriots coach Benjamin Barry. “I know he didn’t get a state championship, but he came as close as he could. For him to win six matches his freshman year until now is just a huge accomplishment.”
For his efforts, Belville is Carolina Weekly Newspaper Group’s 2011-12 Southern Mecklenburg Wrestler of the Year.
In the state meet, Belville lost to Southern Alamance’s Tony DeAngelo, who finished the year undefeated and has signed with the University of Missouri. Instead of giving up after the loss, Belville won the consolation bracket in the 138-pound division and finished the season with a record of 59-4.
“I definitely wanted that state championship,” said Belville. “It was disappointing to lose, but Coach told me I am one of the few wrestlers who closed my career with a win, so I am thankful for that.”
In addition to the wins, Belville seemed to accomplish most all his goals, as he avenged several losses from his junior season.
Last year, he finished second at the 4A Western Regional tournament, the Jim Hayes Invitational and the Holy Angels Tournament at Charlotte Catholic. This season, he won all three events.
Belville has helped Barry revive a once-downtrodden Patriot wrestling program, but both say it wasn’t always easy.
“This program has grown just as much as I have,” Belville said. “It has been a roller-coaster ride, but as I have gone from not (being) good individually to solid, the team has followed. The end of this year was a disappointment for me and the team, but overall it has been an awesome ride.”
Barry took it one step further.
“Casey had a slow growth process,” Barry said. “As a coach, you want kids peaking at the right time. And with him, he did that.
“In wrestling, people see everything: when you are done, when you are tired, and people can tell when you have completely given up. Casey had done some of those things before in his career. But this year, he was a class act. He wrestled well, and he never once showed any of those things.”
As his wrestling career ends, Belville said he hopes his work ethic and the way he carried himself in matches and at practice leads to the continued success of Patriots wrestling.
“People will hopefully say that I was one of the hardest workers,” Belville said. “That is what I prided myself on. When I stepped on the mat, I was all business and I wouldn’t stop and never gave up.”
Barry said Belville turned into a great leader and role model for the Independence program.
“I am 100 percent sure that he gives other people confidence,” Barry said. “By the time he was a senior, he was a good leader for us and a great teacher for the other guys. I am so proud of how he has developed as a person and as a wrestler.”