Eleven different state-ranked wrestlers took the mat with a Southwest Wake Athletic Conference championship hanging in the balance on Tuesday night. It was unmistakably the biggest regular-season wrestling match the Triangle had seen in years.
Cary and Holly Springs each entered the final week of the season undefeated.
Right before the final winner-take-all bout, Cary coach Taylor Cummings told heavyweight Jordan Glover to get a win. Glover told him he’d get a pin.
Glover did as he said, pinning Holly Springs’ Matt Nordberg 3 minutes and 27 seconds into the match, and delivered Cary its first conference title since 2013 with a 33-26 victory. The host Golden Hawks (20-1) had won the conference dual title in each of the three previous seasons with Cary (21-0) finishing second or tied for second each time.
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“I was a little nervous,” Glover said. “I said ‘OK, I can prove my point to my coaches that I can do this.’”
The match started with the lightest weight class, the 106-pounders. Cary’s Kobe Early, ranked No. 3 in the state, put the Imps up 6-0 with a pin in 33 seconds.
Holly Springs got back-to-back decisions from No. 7 113-pounder Aaron Wilkie (10-4) and No. 10 120-pounder Daniel Meyers (6-4, 47 seconds into overtime against Ethan Mendel) to tie the score at 6-all.
Cary forfeited to reigning state runner-up Josh Lehr, a strategy that conceded six points while moving up Anthony Schiess (the state’s No. 10 126-pounder) to 132 pounds and Conrad Schiess to 138 to try to minimize big points by No. 7 Logan Perentis (Perentis won 6-4 at 132) and No. 4 Hunter Morton (Morton won 4-2).
After a one-point deduction for not shaking hands after the match, Holly Springs’ lead was 17-6 with eight bouts left.
Holly Springs forfeited to Cary No. 2-ranked 145-pounder Delante Robinson, and the lead was 17-12. Cary’s Nate Kinsey, No. 2 in 152 pounds, won 8-2 and Holly Springs’ Hunter Yost (No. 8, 160), won 5-1.
Holly Springs’ Zion Cooke shifted the match momentum with a pin 2 minutes and 47 seconds into his match with No. 10 Joe Grena. Cooke, No. 4, had Holly Springs up 26-15 with four bouts left.
At that point, Holly Springs had won all the toss-up matches, which was perhaps expected on a night where emotions were high for the Golden Hawks. Coach Nick Nosbisch, who has been out for most of the season after being diagnosed with bile duct cancer in December, was back on the bench for Tuesday’s match.
“We knew (Holly Springs) would be ready to go for tonight and wrestling for more than just wrestling, for coach Noz, and they fought like hell,” Cary coach Taylor Cummings said. “They deserve a big applause as well. They’ve had a season through adversity and a lot of learning about life; much respect to Holly Springs and their staff.”
But neither team had a decided advantage in the upper weights. It was still anyone’s match.
The Hawks forfeited to Cary 182-pounder Nick Straight, and the lead was down to 26-21.
Cary’s Dontay Turner (195) pulled out a 3-0 win and Davin Vann (220) won 6-0) to take a 27-26 lead and set up a winner-take-all match between Glover and Nordberg.