At last year’s N.C. Independent Schools Athletic Association wrestling championships, while his brother Christian Sodano earned his first state title, Cary Academy’s Julian Sodano was pinned in the 145-pound final by Daniel Hattaway of Metrolina Christian in 3 minutes, 4 seconds.
Julian was thrilled when his brother won his second title Saturday, but this time he knew he had to hold up his end in his home gym.
The junior was pitted in the final against Charlotte County Day School’s Max Spada, last year’s 126 champion. The pair had split their two previous regular-season encounters, but it was a fast start by Julian that ensured that he would get the better of things when it mattered most.
He got a takedown of Spada 20 seconds into the match and moments later turned Spada to his back, eventually getting the pin.
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“When I got in that position (for the pin) and saw where he was at, I’m thinking ‘this is good’ ” Julian said. “I just had to finish it out. ... It’s just a phenomenal feeling, seeing your brother win, and then you get it done. Last year, losing was terrifying, I felt horrible, but I was really excited to get out there (Saturday).”
Christian, a sophomore, was understandably thrilled for his brother.
“I have to admit, coming off the mat and seeing him pin (Spada), it was a magical moment, almost like one of those movie moments,” Christian said.
Christian had the far more difficult go of things in the finals this time around compared to his brother.
Last year, Christian won the 120 title by technical fall, 17-2, but this year he ran into a formidable opponent in Cameron Johnson of Westminster Catawba.
In a match during which he lost both of his contacts in the first period and was later poked in the left eye, Christian looked to be in good shape when he reversed Johnson for a 5-4 with 35 seconds remaining in the third period, only for Johnson to extend the match when he got an escape with 3.1 seconds remaining to force overtime.
Because Christian had used up all his injury time in regulation, Johnson had the choice to take bottom in the first overtime period, needing only an escape to win.
Christian, however, managed to ride him out the entire period before eventually pulling out the victory.
“I just had to hold him,” Christian said. “Sometimes when you’re on top, it’s easier to get it done in overtime. When you’re in neutral, you’re thinking of all the shots you want to do. When you’re on top, you just have to worry about holding him down.”