Cardinal Gibbons leads the fifth-annual N&O Cup race after the fall sports season. Points are accumulated in the N&O Cup by final area top-25 ranking.
There are three rankings in each season: volleyball, football and boys soccer in the fall; boys and girls basketball and wrestling in the winter; baseball, softball and girls soccer in the spring. There will be top-15 area rankings in lacrosse this spring, but they do not factor into the standings.
Gibbons finished seventh in volleyball (worth 19 points), 10th in boys soccer (worth 16) and ninth in football (worth 17) to lead with 52 points.
Green Hope (48 points) is close behind despite not ranking in football. The Falcons were first in boys soccer (25 points) and third in volleyball (23) and both teams were state champions.
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The same is true for third-place North Raleigh Christian (47 points), by far the smallest school in the top 10. The N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association 3A champ were second in volleyball (24 points) and third in boys soccer (23) as both won titles.
Carrboro, Chapel Hill, Sanderson, Panther Creek, Heritage, Middle Creek, Leesville Road and Broughton round out the top 10. In all, 53 different schools were ranked in the fall. How hard is it to be ranked in all three sports? Only Gibbons and Sanderson made all three.
Mareno shines internationally: Leesville Road senior Nevada Mareno just keeps getting better.
On Saturday, she was the top Team USA runner, finishing third in an international junior women’s 4K at the Great Edinburgh XCountry Challenge in Edinburgh, Scotland.
She already has a second-place finish at the Foot Locker Cross County Championships to go with being a two-time N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A cross country champion.
Mareno, a Stanford recruit, finished in 14 minutes and 8 seconds – 12 seconds behind champion Harriet Knowles-Jones from Great Britain and two behind Jasmijn Lau, who was representing the European Union.
Big duals loom: If school is in session by Wednesday, there are three wrestling duals on the schedule that stand out above the rest. Cleveland visits Western Harnett in what amounts to a Two Rivers 3A semifinal – if Western Harnett wins, it takes second in the league; if Cleveland wins, its match later this month against Corinth Holders is for the title.
Middle Creek at Green Hope may be a battle for third in the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference, but both are good enough to win most other leagues.
And above all, N&O No. 3 Cary visits No. 2 Holly Springs in a showdown of two 20-0 teams playing for the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference title. It’s the last time the two will square off as league opponents for the foreseeable future with a new conference realignment kicking in next year.
Nine area wrestlers are No. 1 in their respective weight class in the most recent statewide individual rankings on retrorankings.com.
The No. 1 wrestlers include returning 4A champ Anthony Brito (145 pounds) of Heritage, two-time 1A champ Nick Daggett (113) of Chatham Central and two-time 3A champ Wilson Smith of Rocky Mount (126).
Others are: Cary’s Delante Robinson (4A, 152), Rosewood’s Jordan Todd (1A, 138 pounds), Carrboro’s Quincy Monday (2A, 132), South Granville’s Bryce Talley (2A, 170), Farmville Central’s Jaqwuez Norman (2A, heavyweight) and Orange’s Payton Wilson (3A, 220).
Other wrestlers of note include:
1A: Rosewood’s Christian Decatur (third, 106 pounds), Cameron Helt (second, 182) and Timothy Decatur-Luker (second, 113); Chatham Charter’s Chris Brannon (second, 126); Voyager Academy’s Kyle Coward (second 132).
2A: Southern Vance’s Tre’quan Alston (third, 145); North Pitt’s Sincere King (fourth, 145), Farmville Central’s Malik Perkins (third, 170), Carrboro’s Emmanuel Oquaye (third, heavyweight).
3A: Fike’s Rae-Sae Settles (third, 132); Rocky Mount’s Keyonte Williams (fourth, 132); Union Pines’ Antonio Menozi (second, 145); Orange’s Charles Fitzpatrick (fourth, 152) and Josiah Ramirez (fourth, 170); Northwood’s Hunter Queen (second, 182); C.B. Aycock’s Joshua Wallace (fourth, 182); Southern Nash’s Kendrick Watson (third, heavyweight); Corinth Holders’ Frankie Miller (fourth, heavyweight).
4A: Cary’s Kobe Early (third, 106) and Nate Kinsey (second, 160); Pinecrest’s Alex Contreras (third, 132); Holly Springs’ Hunter Morton (third, 138) and Zion Cooke (fourth, 170); Broughton’s Nash Philbeck (fourth, 145); Wake Forest’s Sandy Cypher (third, 160); Athens Drive’s Youseef Atiboulahri (fourth, 182); South Central’s Jerrell Belcher (second, 195); Riverside’s Jaden Davis (fourth, 195).
N&O Cup Standings
1. Cardinal Gibbons
2. Green Hope
3. North Raleigh Christian
5. Chapel Hill
T7. Panther Creek
9. Middle Creek
T10. Leesville Road
T11. D.H. Conley