WAKE FOREST — Wake Forest-Rolesville is considered a newcomer to the battleground that is the top tier of Cap Eight wrestling.
Sanderson, Millbrook and Leesville Road have competed annually for the conference title while the Cougars have tried to get over the hump to join the pack in recent years.
Wake Forest-Rolesville coach Sam Hershey saw his team take a big step forward Wednesday as the Cougars beat Millbrook, 33-31, at home.
“We’ve just been preaching ‘wrestle hard all the time,’ and that’s why we won tonight,” Hershey said. “They wrestled tough, they wrestled with heart and I’m so proud of these guys. This is us starting to get over the hump tonight.”
With the win Wake Forest-Rolesville (21-3, 5-1) handed Millbrook its first conference loss of the year, halting the Wildcats’ bid for an outright Cap Eight title. Instead, there will likely be a share of the conference crown, as four teams each have one conference loss.
Millbrook coach Scott Saby said the outcome was a “lost opportunity” for his team.
“Obviously we’re disappointed, but (Wake Forest-Rolesville) wrestled very well,” Saby said. “We’ll come back and try to improve.”
Wake Forest-Rolesville, ranked No. 7 in The News & Observer area rankings, opened the meet full of intensity with Min Kim pinning Nick Norton in 5 minutes, 5 seconds to kick things off at 126 pounds.
Jacob Williams (132 pounds) bested Angelo O’Briant, 7-3, followed by Nashid Barrow (138) pinning Brett Burton in 2:36 to put the Cougars up 15-0.
Saby gave his Millbrook team a quick pep talk before the next bout. The Wildcats responded by rattling off six consecutive wins behind its core middle weight classes.
Millbrook’s Nigel Griffin (145) pinned Timothy Fisher in 4:47, and Devonte Smith (152) pinned Axel Kashale in 1:37.
A Wake Forest forfeit at 160 pounds put Millbrook ahead 18-15
No. 5 Millbrook (24-3, 5-1) would go on to win the next three weight classes by decision.
David Robinson (170) defeated Evan Brawner, 12-5; Dillon Dawkins (182) beat Terrence Beard, 8-5; and Jonathan Woodbury (195) topped David Walker, 8-7.
“They are super strong where they made that run, and I knew it was coming,” Hershey said of the Wildcats. “The key was not getting pinned, and we were able to do that in three of those matches.”
Millbrook led 27-15 heading into the 220-pound bout.
Nicholas Fant broke Wake Forest-Rolesville’s slump by winning in sudden victory against Hunter McClelland, followed by Brinson Allen (285) earning a 7-4 decision over Donovan Dawkins.
Millbrook’s Crayton Saby (106) won by major decision over John Finegan to put the Wildcats ahead by ten points with two matches remaining, but it wouldn’t be enough to hold off Wake Forest-Rolesville.
The Cougars registered pins in both bouts, with Nicholas Mutio (113) downing Lee Patton in 1:17, and Mitchell Goldbach (120) topping Kenyon Rochelle-Simmons in 1:08 to take the lead and the win in the final match..
“I was really excited. We’ve had a few other matches where I’ve had to close, so I felt really comfortable,” said Goldbach, who was honored Wednesday along the other Wake Forest senior wrestlers. “We just stayed focused and there were a couple of guys who stepped up more tonight. Everyone contributed and that was the key to winning.”
The final conference standings are still up in the air with each of the one-loss teams still hoping to claim a share of the Cap Eight title.
No. 6 Sanderson (13-2, 4-1) travels to No. 11 Leesville Road (23-3, 4-1) Thursday before ending its regular season against Broughton next Wednesday.
Millbrook will host Enloe, and Wake Forest-Rolesville will face Leesville to end conference play next week.
“We haven’t won anything yet,” Hershey said.