CARY — Sanderson walked away with the top prize Saturday from the Green Hope Grapple wrestling invitational.
Entering the finals matches, Sanderson and Fuquay-Varina – the top two teams – would battle for first place in three weight classes.
Fuquay-Varina came out on top in two of those matches, with Jamel Avery defeating Pete Maierhofer in a 3-2 decision in the 126-pound final and Eric Wilburg topping Johnny Gomez, 6-4, at 152 pounds.
The Spartans got a boost from junior C.J. Grannan, who won the 182-pound class by pinning Fuquay-Varina’s Rielvis Vargas.
Grannan, the only Sanderson wrestler to remain undefeated after the invitational, said he was focused on winning for the team as he prepared for his bout, after watching Fuquay-Varina whittle away at the Spartans’ lead.
“I knew it was my only chance to prove to my teammates that I can do something better for the team and help us win the tournament,” Grannan said.
The Spartans finished with 164 points, followed by the Bengals with 138.5.
The host Green Hope Falcons finished third with 79.
“We couldn’t win many matches in the finals, but considering we have a young team, I’m very pleased with how we did,” Sanderson coach Jeremy Barefoot said.
“We were losing some close matches, and that’s something we’ll work on, but for several kids this was their first varsity tournament.”
While Barefoot acknowledged that Grannan’s effort helped seal the victory for the Spartans, he said the win truly was a team effort.
Despite losing most of their finals matches, Sanderson had the most wrestlers in the finals and was able to secure the win.
“Even though we didn’t walk away with a bunch of medals, we had a solid 14 kids with heart, and that’s why we won,” Barefoot said.
“It was very intense between us,” said first-year Fuquay-Varina coach Edward Petrosky.
“They brought it today and so did we. … It was almost like a dual meet in the finals. I hope we meet again.”
Barefoot told his team they would face many of the wrestlers they had seen at the tournament again once the regional tournament rolls around.
The invitational drew wrestlers from the Triangle – Broughton, Southeast Raleigh, Franklinton, Lee County, Cardinal Gibbons, Enloe and Wakefield – and other areas, including Eastern Wayne, South Central and Cape Fear.