Green Hope’s 193 points helped the Falcons win their own wrestling tournament, the Green Hope Grapple, on Saturday. The Falcons were well ahead of runner-up Cape Fear (146.6), third-place Cary Academy (108.5), Wakefield (fourth, 91) and Neuse Charter (fifth, 82).
Champions included: Eastern Wayne’s Mario Harper (106 pounds); Cary Academy’s Christian Sodano (126), Chapman Fitzgerald (132) and Julian Sodano (138); Green Hope’s Aiden Callahan (145), Andrew Becvar (195) and Alex Etgen (220); Bunn’s Jalen Kelly (160); Hillside’s Tavis Rhodes (182) and Neuse Charter’s Tristan Wellons (285).
Wellons, who had five pins on the day, is the first individual from Neuse Charter to win a wrestling tournament.
Foot Locker Nationals: Leesville Road’s Nevada Mareno and Cardinal Gibbons’ Connor Lane will both be competing in the Foot Locker Cross Country Championship at San Diego’s Balboa Park in San Diego on Saturday. Mareno, the state 4A champ, won the South girls’ regional while Lane, also a state 4A champ, was second in the boys’ regional.
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The races are scheduled for 12:15 and 1 p.m. EST.
Jim King/Orange Invitational: For the second straight year, Orange captured the 29-team championship in the 36th Jim King/Orange Invitational Wrestling Tournament.
The Panthers’ Payton Wilson defeated Corinth Holders’ Larry Williams in the 220-pound title, and Josiah Ramirez won the 170-pound title.
“It felt weird,” said Wilson. “In wrestling, there’s no substitute for being on the mat. Football can’t prepare you for that.”
The Panthers finished with 231 points. Middle Creek, making its tournament debut, finished second with 211.5.
The Mustangs had two champions: Gabe Pickett defeated Orange’s Jamar Davis at 195. Skyler Hendricks captured the 160-pound championship, somewhat to the surprise of coach Heath Allen.
“He’s only been wrestling two years,” Allen said. “He got the job done. He’s competing constantly and getting better every day.”
Chatham Central’s Nick Daggett, a two-time 1A state champ, was named most outstanding wrestler after repeating as champion at 113 pounds.
Cary finished third with three champions and one runner-up. In the 145-pound final, Cary’s Delante Robinson pinned Riverside’s Asante Boler. At 106 pounds, freshman Kobe Early pinned Orange’s Mitchell Askew at 2:39. Cary’s Nate Kinsey defeated Apex’s Joey McMahon 4-2 for the 152-pound championship.
“He wrestled confidently,” said Cummings of Kinsey, who is also 15-0. “Getting past the milestone of qualifying for states has cleared his mind of any obstacles. McMahon is a solid wrestler who doesn’t make many mistakes. Nate is letting the match come to him now.”
Northwood’s Hunter Queen won the 160-pound championship.
Heritage wrestling: Host Heritage went 4-0 at the Husky Duals on Saturday. The Huskies wrestling team defeated Apex Friendship 72-6, Garner 58-18, Cleveland 41-36, Durham School of the Arts 69-12 and Ravenscroft 47-21. They were the only losses in the tournament for Cleveland or Ravenscroft.
Swiss Bear wrestling: Wake Forest was fourth and Athens Drive fifth in the Swiss Bear Classic at New Bern on Saturday. Wake Forest’s Ayush Patel won the 126-pound title while Sander Cypher won the 160-pound title. Athens Drive’s Youssef Aitboulahri won the 182-pound tournament.