Elijah Geniesse wasn’t keeping up with the score, but he knew what had happened right after his pin. The roar of the crowd meant Holly Springs had taken home a third straight Southwest Wake Athletic Conference wrestling title, and Geniesse’s victory was the clincher.
Holly Springs defeated Cary 38-31 on Wednesday, the fifth straight season the SWAC dual title has hinged on the Imps-Golden Hawks match. Holly Springs has now gotten the better of Cary the last three seasons; the two prior went to the Imps.
“I didn’t know that it was that close or that I could clinch it,” said Geniesse, a senior ranked No. 8 in the state at 160 pounds. “I came off the mat, and I saw all the support from the guys … and I knew at that moment that we had this.”
It couldn’t have been a better effort for Holly Springs (34-4, 7-0), which won eight of the first 11 matches to lock up the title before forfeiting two of the last three bouts.
“We’ve really tried to emphasize that we want to be the perennial power in this conference and in this region,” Holly Springs coach Nick Nosbisch said. “When we won that first one, that was a big step, and all those young kids started to buy in, and you’re seeing that (now).”
Cary (21-5, 5-1) opened with a quick lead as 220-pounder Joe Rogers pinned Justin Smith in 55 seconds and the Imps picked up a forfeit win at 285 by Rod Perry. The Golden Hawks were penalized two points after the 220-pound bout for, first, not shaking hands, and second, throwing headgear.
The score was Cary 12, Holly Springs -2, but it didn’t come back to bite the Hawks.
“We can’t give up two penalty points out of the gate,” Nosbisch said. “That’s not what kind of program we are, and when you wrestle Cary, you can’t have those stupid mistakes.”
But Holly Springs erased that quickly with six straight wins: a 3-2 win by 106-pounder Sean McLane, a 16-0 tech fall by Jake Maroney (125 pounds) and 19-3 tech fall by Cam Devers (No. 1 among 4A 138 pounders), and pins by Josh Lehr (No. 2 among 4A 113 pounders) in 1 minute, 42 seconds and Hunter Morton (No. 8 in 120) in 4 minutes, 52 seconds.
The Golden Hawks were up 29-12, and holding Cary’s No. 1-ranked Kollin Wade to an 18-6 win at 145 pounds had Nosbisch smiling even while giving up four team points.
Holly Springs’ No. 2-ranked Nick Connochie (won 10-4), and No. 8-ranked Geniesse (pin 1:54) effectively finished the match.
Cary’s No. 1 Alex Zuniga won 3-0 at 170, followed by forfeit wins by Joe Grenna and Nico Childs to close it out.
“I wish we would’ve come out and wrestled a little bit better and followed the game plan. The deciding thing was, we didn’t stay off our backs,” Cary coach Taylor Cummings said. “On paper, I liked the way we matched up. We were following a good progression for this time of year, and I was hoping we were going to peak when the time counted right now, but unfortunately they got the bonus points, and that’s the match.”