All eyes in the Greensboro Fieldhouse were focused on the last match of the first neutral-site N.C. High School Athletic Association dual-team wrestling championships.
The score was tied.
It was the last bout.
A winner-take-all for the 4A title.
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What every wrestler dreams about, Cary’s Conrad Schiess was ready for.
Schiess pinned his opponent in 48 seconds, giving the Imps a 38-32 victory over two-time defending champion West Forsyth. It is the Cary’s ninth dual-team title and its 16th appearance in the state final.
In the 3A and 1A state title matches, both rematches of last year’s finals, Rosewood got revenge over Robbinsville, while Orange fell short to Piedmont for the second straight year. Rosewood won 41-27 for the 1A title. Orange lost 33-31.
Cary 38, West Forsyth 32
Head coach Anthony Dunbar didn’t know what to expect from his Cary (21-0) team entering the year after losing the core of last year’s team.
But this year’s Imps won the school its first title since 2009, and they did so with complete team efforts like Saturday.
“When we looked at (the matchups) we thought it could go one of two ways: it was either going to be very, very close, or it was going to be very ugly in (West Forsyth’s) favor,” Dunbar said. “The guys just stepped it up and were ready to wrestle today. They came through for us. ... It’s unbelievable how these kids have improved every week. That’s just a testament to how most of these kids were raised and how they were brought up. I’ve never seen a team like this.”
The match was back-and-forth from almost the outset.
Cary started the match on the right foot with a pin by Cymek Shaw (138 pounds) and a 4-2 overtime victory by Paul Grena (145).
West Forsyth (25-10) took its first lead 10-9 after Cary’s Marlon Toruno (152) lost 12-3 and Wesley Alexander (160) was pinned.
Ryan Wolfram (170) won by tech fall, 24-8, to give Cary the lead again at 14-10, and Nicholas Straight (182) won by pin to make it 20-10.
Dontay Turner (195) lost 4-2 in overtime, but Davin Vann (220) pinned his opponent, and Cary led 26-13.
Jordan Glover (285) lost 16-3 and Aaron Garrigues (106) was pinned, and Cary’s lead dwindled to 26-23.
Kobe Early (113) remained undefeated this season by winning his match by pinfall, giving Cary a 32-23 cushion with three bouts left. West Forsyth pinned Cary’s Thomas Kalland (120) and topped Anthony Schiess (126) in ultimate overtime after Anthony couldn’t get up from a down position in 30 seconds.
That set up Conrad Schiess’ heroics. He was named MVP, an obvious choice after winning the title with his pin of West Forsyth’s Kyle Perkins.
“It was my time to step up and get the job done, and I was excited to do that,” Schiess said. “We knew this was our year to win states and be a state championship team, and we did that today.”
Piedmont 33, Orange 31
Orange (22-1) won the first two bouts thanks to a pin by Josiah Ramirez (195 pounds) and a 17-9 win by Braden Homsey (220) to lead 10-0.
But Piedmont (37-1) had a steady onslaught of tough victories to help the Panthers from Unionville over the Panthers from Hillsborough. It’s the fifth time that Orange has finished runner-up in the state duals. Orange also has five dual titles.
“They matched up really well with us, but they took advantage of the matchups,” first-year Orange head coach Spenser Poteat said. “We had a phenomenal year, these guys worked hard all year long, and you can’t take anything away from these guys. All the blood, sweat and tears in the (mat) room. I wouldn’t trade anything for it.”
Orange lost the next seven matches: Daylen Alston (285) lost 9-6, Kessel Summers (106) was pinned, Mitchell Askew (113) lost 6-3, Justin Hutchins (120) lost 4-0, Gavin Wiggins lost 8-1 (126), Bailey Hawkins lost 7-3 (132), and Malcolm Phillips (138) also lost by pinfall.
Orange had some hope when Levi Anderson won 6-1 at 145 pounds to cut the lead down to 27-13, but Piedmont clinched with a pin of Orange 152-pounder Mario Manduiano. Piedmont led 33-13 and forfeited the rest of the way to Orange’s Trey Jones (160), Caleb Brimmer (170) and Avery Jenkins (182).
Rosewood 41, Robbinsville 27
Joey Behrend was named MVP after his pin at 160 pounds clinched the match in the Eagles’ favor. Rosewood (52-3) led 29-21 with three bouts to go before Behrend sealed it. Rosewood, then up 35-21 with two bouts left, rounded out the lineup with a pin from Collin Pendergraph (170 pounds) while Luke Evans (182) fell by pinfall.
Coach Bill Edmundson said Behrend had blamed himself for last year’s title loss to Robbinsville (32-5), which was in the Black Knights’ home gym in the mountains. When he stepped onto the mat this go-round, he was set on bringing home the school’s second dual-team title.
“That loss last year motivated me all summer,” Behrend said. “It’s a great feeling.”
Rosewood won eight of the 14 bouts but dropped the first two – David Brown (195) was pinned and Blake Jarman (220) lost 9-3 – to fall behind 9-0. The Eagles got back on track at 285, where Nyterrius Williams won by forfeit, followed by a pin by Christian Decatur (106).
Rosewood forfeited at 113 pounds and trailed 15-12, but took the lead for good when Timothy Decatur (120) won by tech fall, 17-0.
The Eagles, who have now won state dual-team championships in two of the last three years with last year’s runner-up finish separating the bookend titles, built a steady lead over the next five matches to set up Behrend’s heroics: Reid Amodeo (126) won 3-2, Chris Hill (132) lost 12-7, Jordan Todd (138) won 14-0, Tanner Smith (145) won 20-4, and Seth Finney (152) lost 5-2.