When Marcus Harley looked up at the scorer’s table, the Chapel Hill wrestling coach was sort of shocked.
There stood his freshmen son, Miles, checking in to wrestle in his first county varsity match.
It was a proud, but yet, stressful moment for the elder Harley.
He was proud that his son, a freshman at rival New Manchester, was getting some varsity time on the mat in a big meet, but it also meant he would have to coach against him.
“When I saw him at the table, I was thinking that was weird,” Marcus said. “As a coach, I was there to win. I was super proud of Miles and the way he wrestled in his first county meet.”
The two embraced after the match, which was won by one of Harley’s wrestlers.
But the moment for Harley’s was definitely special.
“When we got home we talked a lot of trash,” Marcus grinned. “Miles knows me and he knows that I’m going to be tough.”
While Miles is just beginning his career as a high school wrestler, Harley’s daughter is wrapping her’s up. Kelly Verneen is a senior wrestler at Chapel Hill, where she is one of the team’s captains.
She is one of a handful of females in the county that competes in the sport.
“Wrestling is a perfect representation of who she is,” Marcus said.
It took some convincing of her mother to allow her to wrestle. Once she gave in, it has been a special bond between Harley and Verneen.
“It took a lot of pleading to get her to let me do it,” she said. “It has been a great experience for me. My dad has been there to help and support me through it all. He was definitely all for it.”
The two agreed that it has brought them even closer together as she spends most of her afternoon sweating it out on the wrestling mats.
“We get to see each other a lot,” Verneen said. “There are some times when you just want your space.”
She is not sure if she will wrestle on the next level. One option is to go into officiating while in college.
But for now, Verneen is enjoying her last high school season on the mat.
“It is a lot of work, but it is rewarding,” she said.
“I’m really proud of how she has grown these last four years,” Harley said. “It was her decision to do it, and she has worked hard.”