RALEIGH — Both Wake Forest-Rolesville and Sanderson knew their conference matchup Tuesday would come down to a matter of 18 points.
The Cougars were strong in weight classes 220, 285 and 106 – areas in which the Spartans have less-experienced grapplers.
When Sanderson coach Jeremy Barefoot found out the meet would start with the 116-pound bout, and thus end with the three matches that were likely to go to Wake Forest-Rolesville, he knew his team would have to build up enough of a cushion leading into those final weight classes.
“We’re still a really young team, so our team is huge on momentum, which can be a good or bad thing,” Barefoot said.
The Spartans (12-2, 3-1) won five of the final nine bouts, including a run of three straight to eventually win, 36-30, and hand Wake Forest-Rolesville its first conference loss.
The meet started as a back-and-forth contest between the squads, but by the time the 195-pound match finished with Sanderson’s Antwuan Elliot pinning Wake Forest-Rolesville’s David Walker, Sanderson led 36-15, putting the meet out of reach for Wake Forest-Rolesville.
Jonny Gomez (145) and Matt Norby (170) also won by pin for the Spartans.
Adam DeRose (116), Pete Maierhofer (126) and C.J. Grannan (182) won by decision. Alonzo Adams (132) defeated Jacob Williams in overtime, and Ryan Rodriguez won the 152-pound match by injury default when Wake Forest-Rolesville’s Oscar Bryant sustained a concussion midway through the second round.
In addition to bouts won, Barefoot said the ability of his wrestlers to avoid being pinned was critical to the team’s victory.
“You’ve got to be able to stay off your back, and we had some guys in the later matches that were able to do that, and that was huge,” Barefoot said. “If we would have tied and went to number of pins, they would’ve won.”
Sanderson’s Ryan Franz (160) and Eddy Castillio (220) each lost their bouts by decision to Evan Brawner and Nicholas Fant, respectively.
Sanderson came into the dual after a one-point loss to undefeated Millbrook and having postponed last week’s scheduled dual against undefeated Leesville because of final exams.
The break allowed the Spartans plenty of time to prepare for Wake Forest-Rolesville, which entered the meet undefeated.
“We felt the way we wanted to feel,” Barefoot said. “We didn’t want to lose to Millbrook, but we knew what’s done is done, so now we needed to beat Wake Forest-Rolesville and Leesville. They came in hungry and fired up tonight, and I think that was the difference.”
Winners by pin for Wake Forest-Rolesville (20-3, 4-1) were Mitchell Goldbach (120), Nashid Barrow (138), Brinson Allen (285) and Nicholas Mutio (106).
Wake Forest-Rolesville coach Sam Hershey said he knew coming into the meet that it would be a tough contest.
“(I was) incredibly nervous,” he said. “All of these matches in the Cap Eight – us, Leesville, Millbrook, Sanderson – are coin tosses on any night. It can go either way.”
Barefoot agreed, adding that the friendly rivalry between Sanderson and Wake Forest-Rolesville could lead to a tie for the Cap Eight title this year.
“I wouldn’t be surprised and I’m hopeful that we’ll be sharing the conference (title) at the end of the season,” he said.
Millbrook and Leesville Road, both still undefeated, will face off Thursday at Millbrook.