Clayton coach Corey Daker said although his team finished high at the Jolly Roger Wrestling Invitational on Saturday at Johnston County rival Corinth Holders, he was a little disappointed in the result.
He was hoping for a championship, and it didn't quite happen.
Pine Forest had three individual champions to the Comets' two, coming away with a 156-146 victory on Saturday in the 18-team tournament. Cape Fear finished in third place with 136.
Nick Brown and Mike Lines took the golds for the Comets, while East Wake's Zach Willard was the only other Greater Neuse River Conference winner at 285.
Besides the Comets, the other Top 10 team finishes were Rolesville in sixth place at 85.5 and the host Pirates in 10th with 66.
"We had some kids who could have wrestled better and we need to fix that," Daker said. "We're a little further along than last season. Nick and Mike were fantastic. I thought we had a shot at it today, but some guys didn't wrestle to their potential."
Pine Forest got its championships at 138 where Deon Odom topped Fayetteville Terry Sanford's Finley Allen 20-9; at 160 with David Russell topping C.B. Aycock's Joshua Wallace 7-3; and at 220 when Marcus Bell pinned Aycock's Brandon Washington in 2:28.
Clayton got a thriller of a win at 145, as Brown nipped Franklinton's Ruben Santiago 4-3. And the Comets' other victory was at 182 as Lines won a 23-6 major over the host Pirates' Noah Vasquez.
Brown improved to 35-8 with the hard-fought win over Santiago, who fell to 28-5.
"It was all about grinding," said the senior Brown, who won his second tournament victory of the campaign. "That was the third time we've met this season. He beat me by one the first time and now I've beaten him by one twice. We've got the best team we've had in a long time."
The senior Lines improved to 42-1 with the dominant win over the home-mat opponent.
"I'm in better shape than most of these guys, so I just try to break them in the third period," Lines said. "I'm just focused on states, and this helps me get ready for next season. I haven't done any sports but wrestling. I just like individual sports, because you don't have to rely on anybody else."
Willard took almost the whole clock before stopping conference rival Jonathan Rose of Greater Neuse River 4A rival West Johnston in 5:47 to improve to 26-1.
"I've been friends with Jonathan for a long time, but we had never wrestled against each other in a competition," said Willard, who was a two-way lineman for the Warriors. "I've won some tournaments before, but this was my first this season. I let him get ahead, but then I had to turn it up to make up for being lazy."
A total of eight area wrestlers including Vasquez and Rose lost in the championship round. Clayton dropped two as Trevor Loken fell to Western Harnett's Jordan Guimont 8-5 at 152 and Luke Foster came up just short in a 3-2 loss to Triton's Hunter Johnson at 170.
Franklinton's Daniel Mickshutz beat West's Austin Dailey 14-7 at 113 while Fike's Linton Holmes topped Rolesville's Brandon Acklin 10-3 at 120, Jacksonville's Blaine Mainz defeated Science & Math's Caleb Cox 7-2 at 132, and Cape Fear's Chris Mathews got by Cleveland's Trevor Bryant on a disqualification at 195.
"I think the tournament went well and we had a lot of positive feedback," Corinth Holders coach Kristian Stewart said. "That makes it all worth it. It takes a lot of time, but the kids learn a little work ethic with all they have to do. We performed pretty well for what we have. We had a lot of injuries last week, and the younger guys got to wrestle some varsity time. We're building."