Fittingly, a Cary freshman wrestler named Early got the host team off to a quick start to win the 6th annual Mark Adams Holiday Classic on Friday at the Imp Dome.
Cary was clinging to a 2.5-point team lead over Mount Pleasant entering the finals, but Kobe Early’s 8-2 decision at 106 pounds in the first match was the early start (pun intended) the Imps sought to protect their lead.
“We have to win this; it’s our tournament,” said Early, who improved to 25-0. “I wanted to get us off to a fast start and get that major decision.”
He was close to a takedown for an eight-point margin and major decision to earn an extra team point, but time expired before he finished the move. But it turned out the Imps won going away with 231.5 points to Mount Pleasant’s 210.
Cary’s four finalists all entered the tournament unbeaten and remain unblemished. Mount Pleasant’s three finalists all finished as runners-up.
The other three Cary individual champions were seniors and returning state-meet qualifiers. Delante Robinson (23-0) won 10-8 in double overtime at 145 pounds, Nate Kinsey (24-0) shut out his opponent 11-0 at 152 and Joe Grena (5-0) is just getting his season started after a knee injury suffered in September. He won 8-6.
Robinson, who rallied from a 6-4 deficit in the third period to force overtime, was named the tournament MVP.
“Honestly, we think about the team over the individual,” Robinson said.
He won despite starting the match allowing Union Pines’ Tony Menozi to take him down for a 2-0 lead. Menozi maintained a lead into the third period.
“I didn’t want him to score first because he has a good shot, but that’s what happened,” Robinson said. “I had to do something I normally don’t do to come from behind, and that will help me later in the season.”
In all, there were 10 champions from Triangle schools in the 14 weight classes.
Middle Creek’s finalists were 3-0 to lead the Mustangs to a fourth-place team trophy.
Junior Logan Maher (29-3) won 6-2 at 113 pounds over Apex Friendship’s Alec Montoya. Maher was a state-meet qualifier a year ago at Fuquay-Varina.
The other two Mustangs taking titles were senior Skyler Hendricks (21-8) with a two-point takedown at the buzzer for a 12-11 decision at 160 and senior Gabe Pickett (23-3) with a pin in 51 seconds at 195.
The two mat officials huddled for a couple of minutes before confirming Hendricks finished his takedown move before the buzzer. Pickett might be on his way to a most improved trophy. He was only 24-22 a year ago.
“I’ve improved my moves on the bottom,” he said. “I used to get taken down. Now I have some moves to get out of the bottom.”
Also winning titles were Leesville Road’s Dan Mills at 132, 19-2; Cardinal Gibbons’ Jalen Brooks at 220, 9-1; and Ravenscroft heavyweight Calvin Atkeson with a pin in 1:39.
Atkeson was a state runner-up a year ago in the N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association.
Brooks, a star defensive end for the Crusaders’ football team, recorded his win over Ravenscroft’s Emmanuel Baende, who was fifth in last year’s state NCISAA meet. It was the only final with two Triangle wrestlers facing each other. Triangle grapplers were 10-1 in the finals.