GARNER — Smithfield-Selma coach Kristian Stewart went into Tuesday night’s Greater Neuse River 4A match at Garner missing a couple of sick wrestlers. Others didn’t quite make weight.
So knowing the Spartans were going to have to forfeit four bouts, he moved the bulk of his bigger guys up a weight class.
The ploy worked perfectly.
The Spartans won the six largest weight classes by pins, four of them in the first round, and nipped the Trojans 41-40.
The victory improved the Spartans, who will be moving down to the Two Rivers 3A next year, to 3-5 overall and 1-2 in GNRC action.
“I’m still not happy with our mistakes,” Stewart said after the win. “With new guys you expect it, but the older guys need to listen more and make good decisions. We’ve got to be smarter on the mat.
“But it’s good to beat Garner. I knew with all the forfeits we knew we had to go solid through the weight classes. So we shifted up to win the match.”
Garner, under first year head coaches Ryan Tingle and Ronnie Lee, fell to 1-2 all in conference matches.
“We lost by one point, and that’s frustrating,” said Tingle, who had been the assistant coach for the past six seasons and like Lee is a Garner alumnus. “But we’ve got a young team and know we’ll be returning everybody next year.
“Forfeits are part of the game. We’ve got two guys in every weight class now. Last year we would have given up forfeits as well.”
With the rotation beginning at 126, the Trojans took a 22-5 lead before the Spartans’ big guys went to work.
Hisaun Yates had the quickest match, stopping Chad Porter in 20 seconds at 220.
“Coach said go win and I did,” said Yates, who is deciding where he wants to play college football next season. “I jumped up a weight class, but I knew I had to win. I didn’t win my match against them last year, and it feels good to get Garner somewhere.”
Smithfield-Selma’s Brandon DeLeon pinned Jamel Wiley in 56 seconds at 182 while Zach Rhodes stopped Amani Souramo in 1:16 at 285, Robert Hicks pinned Joseph Spinks in 1:18 at 160, Jesus Macis stopped Francisco Cedra in 4:34 at 170, and in a match interrupted by a fire alarm Logan Cox pinned Jonathan Ruicero in 5:39 at 195.
“Beating Garner feels pretty good,” said the junior DeLeon, who is 4-6 on the season. “I didn’t do well against them last year. And the way to approach it in duals is that your match is the one that could win the match.”
Tyler Talley’s 18-2 romp over Dylan Harden at 132 was the Spartans’ other victory.
Garner had two pins, as Justin Scales stopped Austin Young in 41 seconds at 126 and James Box pinned A.J. Blackmon in 5:49 at 113.
“I just knew in my head I had to win,” said the junior Scales, who improved to 6-2. “I got behind (Young) and from then I knew I had him. We’re a young team, but we’re learning.”
Garner got another impressive win at 145, as John Christen beat Caleb Brown 14-6.
The Trojans’ forfeit winners were Mason Crawford at 106, Aschalew Teka at 120, Emon Kiser at 138 and Miller Sawyer at 152.