As the North Forsyth wrestling team’s dominance in area duals tournaments extended in recent seasons, the Raiders often required nerve-wracking comebacks to pile up championships.
Not this time.
North cruised with relative ease to a 47-26 victory against South Forsyth in the finals of the Area 5-7A Duals Tuesday, clinching its sixth straight area duals championship and helping its seed at this weekend’s GHSA Team Dual Wrestling Championship in Macon, where the Raiders hope to repeat last year’s run to the state finals. North begins the event Thursday against Meadowcreek at 5 p.m.
“I felt like both South and Central took it to us, and I don’t really like that,” Jarrard said. “Usually I’m more happy when we’re going after to people. I think they came after us, and some of the kids responded and some of them didn’t the way I wanted them to. Knocked a little rust off, which was good.”
Entering Tuesday with a bye in the first round as the top seed, North dispatched Forsyth Central, 50-18, in the semifinals. South handled rival Lambert, 50-23, to set the stage.
But there was little theater. After six weight classes, North led 25-3. After Spencer Dooley won a 14-4 major decision at 132 pounds to put the Raiders up 35-14, South responded with back-to-back pins by Jackson Baraff (138) and Charlie Ranta (145) to get within 35-26.
But North responded with pins from Nathan Grimes (152) and Conner Carroll (160), who popped up after his second period pin holding up six fingers – a pose his teammates mimicked in celebratory pictures afterward.
“Now it’s just a matter of getting back in the room and seeing where our weight is. That’s the biggest thing,” Jarrard said. “A one day turn-around before we head down to Macon. This was our first time having everybody down at their weights that they’re going. For the most part we looked good at those weights. Now it’s just a matter to see if we can make it again.”
The real theater came next, after Central wrestled back with a 60-21 win against Lambert to face South for second place, and two programs who hadn’t qualified for the State Duals in 11 and 13 years, respectively, faced off to change that.
And through nine weights on its home mat, Central was in position to end its drought, getting pins from Ethan Platzke (182), Jake Gardner (285), Abraham Perez (113) and Hunter Kurowski (132) to take a 31-15 lead.
But South stormed back, and it started again with Baraff and Ranta. The two went back-to-back pins to pull within 31-27. Even Trevor Smith conceding only a 13-1 major decision instead of a pin to Miles Bankston at 152 was fortuitous, for it set up back-to-back pins by James Porter (160) and Arvin Khedmati (170) to secure a 39-35 win and clinch its first State Duals appearance since 2004.
The War Eagles will face Lassiter in the first-round Thursday at 5 p.m.
“It’s a stepping stone, it’s momentum, because this was kind of the first No. 1 goal of what we’re trying to do this year,” South first-year head coach Josh Stephen said. “Everything else before is great, but this matters.”