DURHAM — The matches were close, but Cary’s wrestling team was expecting that. The eastern part of the state is full of improving programs, most modeling themselves after the 20-time state champion Imps.
So moving past the first and second rounds, which is what Cary did after a 36-30 opening win against Wake Forest-Rolesville and a 36-27 defeat of Wilmington Laney, is more of an accomplishment these days. Even for a tradition-rich and storied program like Cary’s.
“We learned a pretty good lesson last week, that nothing is going to be handed to us just because we’ve got ‘Cary’ on the T-shirt,” said Cary coach Taylor Cummings, alluding to losing the conference tournament for the first time in 30 years last Saturday.
“It’s just not that way in the state anymore, the wrestling’s a lot better. And we’re not as thick in our lineup right now with a lot of injuries. In the first half, we just had to grind through.”
Wake Forest-Rolesville (22-4) was a wild-card in the playoffs after losing out on a three-way draw with fellow co-conference champions Millbrook and Sanderson.
The Cougars were weaker in the upper weights than Cary, and it showed when the Imps led 21-0 after five bouts, including two forfeits.
But Wake Forest rallied in the lower weights. A surprise pin of Cary’s Alex Ynoquio just 49 seconds into the bout brought the Cougars to within six with two bouts to go.
“They were dangerous,” Cummings said.
However, Cary’s Steven Amaya picked up the clinching 5-0 win.
“I’m so proud of my guys,” Wake Forest coach Sam Hershey said. “(Cary) is full of talented wrestlers.”
On the other mat, Northern Durham – which has excelled at tournaments and has been solid at duals – knew Laney would be a tough matchup.
The host Knights (27-9) were pinned five times and forfeited once in a 44-28 loss.
“I thought that we didn’t match-up with them at all,” said 10th-year coach Matt Brown. “We beat a couple teams that beat them, but our matchups with them were terrible.”
Laney (20-5) and Cary (19-0) were even after eight bouts, tied 18-all.
A pin by Will Clark and a 9-5 decision by Ynoquio put the Imps up before Trashun Shaw clinched the match with a 3-1 victory with two bouts to go.
4A: In the next rounds, which will be played Thursday night at a site to be determined, it will be Cary, New Bern, Hope Mills South View and Fayetteville Britt. South View advanced after a 72-12 win against Knightdale and a 45-15 win against Sanderson. Sanderson defeated Scotland County 36-31 in the first round, which was hosted by Knightdale.
3A: Cleveland lost 39-37 to Southern Nash in the first round and Chapel Hill lost 57-12 to West Brunswick.
2A: Corinth Holders will be wrestling again on Thursday after picking up a 39-23 first-round win against Swansboro and then a 51-21 win against Durham School of Arts.
1A: N.C. Science and Math and Chatham Central both lost in the first round. Chatham Central fell 37-35 to Rosewood and NCSSM lost 52-17 to Ayden-Grifton.
Blake: 919-460-2606; Twitter: @JMBpreps