Apex wrestling, which finished at the bottom of the Southwest Wake Athletic Conference standings a year ago, picked up a 44-26 victory at Panther Creek’s tri-meet Thursday night to hold onto its third-place position in the conference.
The Cougars trailed after five bouts, finding themselves in a 12-10 hole, but bounced back to outscore the Catamounts 28-6 down the stretch.
With the scoreline tight during a blood timeout in the 220-pound bout, tempers flared between coaches Ross Little of Apex and Panther Creek’s Chad Sichak.
Little was heard asking “Are you calling me a liar?” to which Sichak said “Yeah, I am!” After the match, Little approached Sichak and said “Let’s finish this.”
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Sichak declined to comment. Little said the disagreement started on an incorrect weight being listed online.
“It was just a miscommunication in the weight sheet kind of thing, a typographical error, it’s happened before and sometimes coaches agree to say ‘it’s OK’ and you call it in to TrackWrestling(.com) to get it fixed,” Little said. “It’s not a big deal.”
Gabe Baragona (106), Blake Williams (120), Nick Kliewer (152), Connor Castagnero (170) and Joey McMahon (132) – in a brief 24 seconds – all earned six points via pin for the Cougars.
Dalton Phillips (126) and Abraham Flores (160) picked up major decision victories.
“We’re a young team and wrestling other good teams gives us experience going into the postseason,” Little said. “We (come away) being mat-savvy.”
Panther Creek: The Catamounts kicked off the night with a 58-24 victory against the visiting Bengals, scoring 34 unanswered points to end the match.
Panther Creek celebrated its five graduating seniors – Chad Laska, Miles Kent, Troy Freeman, Nino Ruiz and Jonathan Naula. The quintet combined to score 38 points in nine bouts.
“All our seniors probably wrestled their best match of the year, so we’re really proud of them. A couple of them have been with us for four years,” Sichak said. “They’ve put in a lot of hard work, been dedicated to try and make this team as good as they could be this year.”
Laska, a team captain and state qualifier in 2015, has seen the wrestling program knit itself together over his years competing.
“We’ve definitely grown closer together, when I first got here we were kind of were close but we weren’t really a team, just teammates,” Laska said. “As the years progressed, different people came in, became captains, coaches evolved, and it’s more of a family now than it is a team.”
Gabriel Mendes (113), Steven Thibault (120), Avhinav Dhital (132), Freeman (138), Kent (145), Kyle Sorensen (152), Nino Ruiz (160), Laska (182), Justin Pattishall (195) and Arya Kode (225) all took home wins on the night.
Fuquay-Varina: The Bengals found their strength in the highest weight classes, as Josh Arrington (170), John Royal (220) and Eric Breault (285) all earned six points that had the match as close as 24-18 before the lighter weight classes began.
Due to a plethora of roster turnover occurring during the year, Fuquay was forced to plug some junior varsity players into the lineup as the team rebuilds.
“We’ve struggled through the year with attendance and accountability, so Fuquay is going to be in a rebuild for the next few years,” coach Dustin Ducher said. “I couldn’t be happier with how the freshmen have been handling the varsity spotlight, it takes a lot from these guys whose first time it is stepping onto the mat.”
Logan Maher (106) earned six points via forfeit.