Ravenscroft is trying to get its wrestling program back to dominance. Capturing a third consecutive TISAC tournament title is a good start.
The Ravens wrapped up the league crown Thursday evening, scoring 55 points to defeat host Cary Academy (38) and North Raleigh Christian Academy (22).
Ravenscroft also left Cary with the top wrestler in the league, senior Blake Sanders, the 132-pounder who has bounced back from several injuries – including a broken neck – to snag the top honors in the league.
The Ravens were impressive from start to finish, collecting eight pins on the evening. The first round of the tournament was a series of showdowns between the No. 2 and No. 3 seeds, with the winner advancing to take on the top seed in the championship round.
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More times than not, waiting in the final round was a No. 1 seed Ravenscroft wrestler.
“We’re fortunate enough to have 14 weight classes with solid guys who have come through our program since middle school and know what the sport is about,” Ravenscroft coach Garrett Cummings said. “This has been the goal for some years to fill out a team that can compete in every match, whether they are the underdog or they are the favorite.”
The Ravens weren’t underdogs a lot. Ravenscroft boasted 10 top-seeded wrestlers out of the 14 weight classes. That includes Sanders, who pinned Chapman Fitzgerald of Cary Academy.
Sanders, who has been wrestling for six seasons, was named the Wrestler of the Year, two years removed from two fractures in his neck.
“It means a lot,” Sanders said. “To come back and overcome all of these injuries, to get all the way back to the top of my game my senior year. I’m excited to see what States holds for me.”
Sanders won’t be heading to States alone, with the majority of his teammates coming along for the ride. Some early pins by his teammates became contagious and the Ravens rolled, despite a few stumbles along the way.
“Guys feed off of each other,” Cummings said. “These guys came out very confident. When we were the favorites, the guys went out there and got the job done for the most part.”
They said it
Because they had so many top seeds, Ravenscroft had a lot of guys sitting and watching the opening rounds. Even though it appeared they were getting a rest advantage, Cummings isn’t so sure it gave his team a leg up.
“Believe it or not, I’m not sure that’s always an advantage. Sometimes we come out cold and we don’t have that lung blowout the other guy gets. The first round of the tournament is sometimes tough like that.”
Without question, the 170-pound showdown between Ben Schwarz, of Ravenscroft, and Isiah Hoile, of Cary Academy. Hoile, the No. 2 seed, advanced to the title round after defeating No. 3 seed Brandon Waugh. He and Schwarz battled to a 9-9 tie at the end of the third round. Hoile was called for stalling, which were the points to tie the match, sending it into overtime. In the extra frame, Hoile was about to defeat the No. 1 seed for the win.
“I knew I had to make sure I didn’t do anything that was clumsy,” Hoile said. “I couldn’t freak out, I had to remember my technique. I took a shot, he almost got around, and I took him down with a double leg takedown.”
106-pounder Sam Tabet (pin), 132-pounder Blake Sanders (pin), 138-pounder Weldon Dement (pin), 152-pounder Ian Conley (pin), 160-pounder Bradley Conley (pin), 182-pounder Nathan Lamb (pin), 220-pounder DJ Washington (pin), Calvin Atkeson (pin).
Cary Academy’s champs
113-pounder Cade Spector (10-3), 120-pounder Atticus Sauls (forfeit), 126-pounder Christian Sodano (16-1), Julian Sodano (pin), 170-pounder Isiah Hoile (pin),
North Raleigh Christian’s champs
195-pounder Jalen Brooks (pin)