Leesville Road and Garner led their respective conferences on a day when the Cap Eight flexed its muscle on the wrestling mat in the Cap Eight/Greater Neuse Challenge on Saturday at Millbrook.
Leesville Road topped a trio of Cap Eight teams that went 5-0 in the day-long event, outscoring its opponents 350-49. Millbrook and Heritage also went 5-0, with the host Wildcats totaling 326 points.
Trophies went to the team from each conference that totaled the most points.
Garner edged out East Wake in total points – 149-144 – to take home the trophy for the Greater Neuse River Conference.
The five Cap Eight teams posted a 19-6 record. Wakefield and Enloe each went 2-3. The Greater Neuse group went 6-19, with Southeast Raleigh and Rolesville both going 0-5. Rolesville, a new school in its first year of athletic competition, fielded a team of all freshmen and sophomores.
Leesville had the best day, racking up points and losing only a few matches. The most points the Pride surrendered in any match was 18 in its 63-18 win over East Wake.
Leesville Road coach Jason Wyss said the Challenge win was a good stepping stone to prepare the Pride for Monday’s conference match against Sanderson.
“This was a good confidence-builder. The guys wrestled extremely well.
“It’s really good for both conferences. In years past, we didn’t see these guys. Now they are in our regional. It gives us a chance to compete conference versus conference. It lets you know what you need to work on to get to the regional tournament. We are going to have to battle through these guys to get to the state tournament. We got a good chance to see some good schools and some good wrestlers.”
Wyss cited his two captains – Matt Cesari and Tyler Ruff – for their performance in the event.
Cesari, normally a 152-pounder, moved up to the 160-pound weight class to wrestle one of Clayton’s best wrestlers – Michael Lines – and won by pin. Ruff recorded five pins on the day.
“I think everything turned out well today,” Cesari said. “I think one of the biggest parts of today was the momentum that we got. Somebody would win and somebody else would say, ‘Oh, I can do that,’ and they would win. It was a perpetuating cycle. Hopefully we can keep that momentum going.”
Millbrook coach Scott Saby was pleased with the fifth annual Challenge.
“It gets to build a little rivalry between the two conferences,” Saby said. “It helps us to see each other. Also we get to wrestle against local teams and see a lot of different kids. It’s really been an enjoyable event.”
Saby cited Dillon Dawkins (182 pounds), his son Crayton Saby (106), Alexander Janni (145) and Peter Neuenschwan (152) for standing out on Saturday for the Wildcats. He also welcomed back senior Nick Norton, who came back from an injury and wrestled several matches at 120 pounds.
Heritage, a school in just its fourth year, made its mark with five victories. The most spectacular moment for the Huskies was a pin by 220-pounder Dilon Campbell in just seven seconds against Garner.
A Millbrook wrestler had posted a 12-second pin early Saturday. Campbell said he had his sights set on getting a quicker one and went for his favorite move as soon as the referee’s hand dropped.
“My goal is to always be better,” said Campbell, a senior. “I knew what moved I typically liked – underhooks with a pinched knee. I hit it just right and stuck to the basics and got the finish. It was unreal.”
Campbell hooked both of his arms under his opponent’s, took him down and ended up with the fastest pin of his career.
“Today was a very big day for us,” Campbell said. “We really turned the corner today. The intensity is up. Everyone is wrestling better.”
Heritage coach Bryan Welsh said it was a significant day for a new school trying to build a program.
“We are on the right track,” Welsh said. “We’re trying to build a strong and solid program. We want athletes who are committed, responsible.
“I feel great about today. I saw one of my freshmen (Max Vandenberg) get his first win of the season, and that really makes me happy.”