West wrestler shocks field at WRAL Invitational
George Nathaniel of West Johnston was the overwhelming choice as the most outstanding wrestler Dec. 27-28 in the 42nd annual WRAL Invitational at Athens Drive High.
Nathaniel did not qualify for the N.C. High School Athletic Association championships last year, but roared through an outstanding field to win the 160-pound weight class in the invitational.
“Nathaniel isn’t ranked in the state, but he was just tremendous,” said West Johnston coach David Prendergrast. “He has kept improving and improving through the years.”
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Nathaniel, who is 24-2 this year, defeated Garrett Hlavacek of Fayettville Cape Fear in the finals, 7-5. Hlavacek was fifth in the state finals last year.
Earlier, Nathaniel had beaten Niko Cappello, a high school all-America pick from Cranford, N.J., and Eddie McGrail of Lake Norman, who was third in last year’s NCHSAA championships.
“George is not afraid of wrestling anyone,” Prendergrast said. “He was simply outstanding.”
Undefeated Sam Campbell of West Johnston won the 220-pound title by taking a 13-7 win over Brian Tiderman of Charlotte Independence.
“Tiderman is the all-time leader in wrestling wins in Mecklenburg County,” Prendergrast said. “Sam’s win was very impressive. Sam was tremendous, but everyone expected him to be. He is ranked among the top two in his class in the state. George surprised a lot of people.”
The wins by Campbell and Nathaniel helped West Johnston finish seventh (124.5 points), the highest among area teams. Alexander Central won the team title with 184 points.
West’s Tony Jimenez finished second at 106 and teammate Raheem Simmons took fifth place at 126.
Garner-Central games moved
Friday’s once scheduled prep basketball games between Garner and Harnett Central were rescheduled for Jan. 21 in Garner.
Knightdale pulls away from Bulldogs
Knightdale held Southeast Raleigh’s boys basketball team to 14 points in the second half and rolled to a 73-45 victory Friday. The Knights also controlled the game on the boards, outrebounding the Bulldogs, 44-23.