North Johnston graduate Ian Walston, left, in a game against Corinth Holders last fall, will play in both the Clash of the Carolinas all-star match Saturday in Cary and the N.C. Coaches Association East-West All-Star Game on July 18 at Bryan Park near Greensboro.
Dean Strickland | The News & Observer
By Paul Durham
What has already been a busy summer for recent North Johnston High graduate Ian Walston figures to get even busier, beginning this weekend.
Walston was selected to play for the North Carolina side in the Clash of the Carolinas boys soccer match against South Carolina at WakeMed Soccer Park in Cary. On July 18, he will compete for the East in the North Carolina Coaches Association in the 26th annual East-West All-Star Game in boys soccer, to be played in Macpherson Stadium in Bryan Park near Greensboro.
Walston was honored to be chosen for both all-star contests, becoming the first Panther to do so in either.
“Honestly, it surprised me because I wasn’t expecting to be one of the top 18 players in North Carolina, but I’m looking forward to it,” he said.
Walston earned his spot with a standout senior year that saw him repeat as a North Carolina Soccer Coaches Association 2-A All-State selection as he helped North Johnston earn a share of the Eastern Plains Conference championship with Washington. He scored 14 goals and distributed 22 assists for the Panthers, who finished 17-6-2.
Those numbers represented a drop from his junior year when he was the top goal scorer in the North Carolina High School Athletic Association 2-A ranks with 42. Ten games into his senior season, Walston was asked by Panthers head coach Jody Edwards to move from forward to left back. North Johnston went 12-2-1 the rest of the way.
Going into the all-star games, Walston isn’t sure where he is going to play.
“The only time I’ve been in this kind of situation is when I’ve been a guest player on a club team,” he said, adding that the players on both teams will have to learn quickly how to play with one another.
“Pretty much it’s going to be chemistry and figuring how everybody plays,” he said.
He will have some familiarity with two of his teammates in both matches — Hunt High products Cooper Dean and Jose Anguiano. Walston played with the pair, both of whom were repeat 3-A all-state picks as well, from their earliest days. The trio were teammates on Wilson Recreation Department and Wilson Youth Soccer Association teams.
“I haven’t played with them in probably five or six years,” Walston said. “I think it’s going to be fun and exciting. I know how they play and I’m hoping I can learn from them.”
Walston is used to double duty, having played several sports at North Johnston. He was the NCHSAA 2-A East Regional singles champion in tennis this spring and over the course of his career was a standout in wrestling as well as track and field.
So far this summer, he has attended an orientation program at North Carolina State University, where he will enroll in the fall and plans to major in engineering. He’s also spent a week at Future Farmers of America camp at White Lake and taken a vacation with his parents, Catherine and Brent Walston of Wilson, and younger brother, Graham, that included a trip to Fenway Park in Boston to see the Red Sox play and a tour of the ESPN studios in Bristol, Connecticut.
While the hectic pace of the summer has been fun, Walston knows the upcoming matches represent the end of his high school career. He laughed when asked if he will remind his brother, also a soccer player at North Johnston, that he has some big shoes to fill.
“I’m not reminding him. I’m challenging him!” Walston assured.