Holly Springs started five sophomore and four freshman and actually lost five of the nine matches contested against Southwest Wake Athletic Conference foe Green Hope on Tuesday night.
But that didn’t stop the Golden Hawks from getting a 54-27 victory to stay unbeaten
“It’s nice to keep rolling in the conference,” Hawks coach Nick Nosbisch said. “Every conference match is a big one, and they all mean something. Everybody in our conference is solid, so you’ve got to bring your ‘A’ game. … We’re going to keep it rolling, and we’re gearing up toward the end of the season in January.”
In addition to getting five wins via forfeit, Holly Springs (15-0, 4-0) had four pins. One of those was at 138 pounds by senior Cam Devers, the 4A state runner-up last season. Nosbisch said Devers has a “chip on his shoulder” after losing the state title bout and is wrestling with a purpose in his senior season.
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“Everybody’s been telling me that since last year that it’s going to be my year, I’m going to win a state championship,” Devers said. “I honestly believe it, and I want it so bad. I want it more than anyone else in this state, and I’ve been putting in so much time and effort since sophomore year to get where I want to be that I’m not going to stop until I get there.”
That kind of fire should rub off on Holly Springs’ younger wrestlers, and perhaps it already has.
Sophomore Jake Maroney scored a pin at 132 on Tuesday, while freshman Nigel Lucas had a pin at 145. Devers hopes he’s able to come back in future seasons to see a “good, tough program.”
“We’ve got a lot of younger kids, and they haven’t quite experienced everything yet,” Devers said. “But they’re slowly catching on to it, which is what I like. I want to leave the program better than what I found it, and I’m slowly getting that. It makes me happy and proud.”
Green Hope actually led 18-0 after getting pins from Kenneth Andreu (195), Alex Etgen (220) and Nick Castro at 285.
“I loved it,” Falcons coach Chip Bunn said with a smile. “I should’ve taken a picture of it early.”
But Green Hope (6-3, 1-3) knew that without starters Riyaddh Winquist (126) and Ryan Sollod (152) – out with “bumps and bruises,” Bunn said – it would be tough to hold the lead.
“I knew they were strong in the middle weight classes, but able to get that jump start ahead feels good,” Etgen said. “It’s better than last year, when we were having a rough time.”
Bunn, in his second stint as coach, was brought back to rebuild the Green Hope wrestling program, and he hopes to be more competitive in the tough SWAC within three years. He’s already brought more kids into the program, 47, than the Falcons had a year ago.
“We’re back to square one,” Bunn said. “We’re re-teaching a lot of stuff. We’ve got a lot of young kids … so it’s a lot of rebuilding. We’ve got a lot of kids getting on-the-job experience by being put out there on the mat.”
And facing a team like Holly Springs certainly helps.
“You can’t get any better unless you wrestle good kids,” Bunn said. “Their program is where we were when I was back at Green Hope in 2007-08. It’s great to wrestle those guys.”
One of Bunn’s goals is to build better team chemistry.
“He’s really trying to bring us together as a family, a group of brothers,” Etgen said. “It makes us a lot better wrestlers because we’re able to make each other better and push each other.”