Both Rolesville and West Johnston came into Wednesday’s Greater Neuse River Conference dual match with an eye on claiming the conference crown.
Thanks to late pins by Thad Wilkerson, Gavin McKenorick and Nick Garbarino, it was West Johnston that won the pivotal encounter against Rolesville, 50-29.
With the win, the Wildcats (12-1, 6-0) can claim the conference title outright with a win at Clayton next Tuesday. If Clayton knocks off the Wildcats, then it, Rolesville (14-5, 5-1) and West Johnston will share the conference title.
“It went the way I thought it would go,” said West Johnston coach David Prendergast, who came out of retirement after two seasons. “There were a couple of different things that happened, but I’ve been working on this lineup since I took the job. I asked a kid on the team who the toughest team was, who was the team to beat, and he said ‘Rolesville.’ I immediately started working on Rolesville, watching them, following them, and I got the match ups I wanted.”
Digital Access for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
One of those came at the 182-pound match, where West Johnston’s Tunstall Jefferson, who weighed in at 171.1 pounds, wrestled Aaron Le.
The two piled up points until the third period where Jefferson, who was nursing an 18-14 lead, scored a pin fall.
“It was back and forth, back and forth, and that was critical for us,” Prendergast said. “The 106 bout (McKenorick) was huge, and we got a pin. The 113-pound match, (Garbarino’s) good, he’s just got to get tougher, and that will happen all the time. He got the job done. Getting everybody back after the holiday was difficult, but we got it done.”
Garbarino was ahead on points, but managed to pin Mamoon Hassan with just 30 seconds left in the final period.
The Wildcats also got victories from Austin Dailey (120), Ryan Schroer (132), Craig Brown (138), Christian Lanier (145) and Kaleb Wright (160).
For Rolesville (15-5), Jordan Laurio (220), Bobby James (195), Andrew Bardsley (152) and Matthews Mims (126) won by pin fall while David McLymore (170) won by forfeit when West Johnston accidentally sent the wrong wrestler out for the match.
“We knew that this would be a tough match going in,” Rolesville coach Jason Snetana said. “We kind of geared up for it, and I think, for a lot of our guys this is a wake-up call. I’d rather take a wake-up call now, with the season still going on, versus the end of the season.”
The Rams were docked one point after Dailey’s win 8-7 win over Anthony Frie for unsportsmanlike conduct. It was the closest match of the night, with Dailey overturning a one-point deficit with a take down in the final seconds.
“I know that a lot of these guys will use this as a little fuel to their fire,” Snetana said. “We’re definitely a studious team. We take film, we look back and we kind of see what our strong points were, what were our weak points, and we practice those. We just try to say ‘here’s where we could have done better,’ and we go forward.”
In the earlier dual matches, Rolesville took down East Wake, 72-11, while West Johnston defeated Harnett Central, 64-12. While the West Johnston/Rolesville match was taking place, Harnett Central took a 66-12 win over East Wake.