WENDELL -- Rarely does an inaugural event go off with very few hitches. But the initial Jolly Roger Dual Meet Wrestling Tournament did exactly that Saturday at Corinth Holders High School.
The only thing that could have made the day better would have been a team title for the host Pirates, who settled for a third-place finish.
Wake Forest-Rolesville collected that honor, as well as the enormous trophy that had stood in gymnasium foyer throughout the tournament.
The Cougars laid claim to that piece of hardware with a perfect 5-0 worksheet, culminated by a scintillating, 34-33 victory over Durham Jordan.
Corinth Holders, which dropped a disappointing, 36-31 verdict to the Cougars in the semifinals, settled for third with a come-from-behind, 40-31 triumph over New Bern in the consolation match. That effort paced area participants, which saw West Johnston outlast Cleveland, 34-31, for fifth place, while Knightdale finished eighth.
The Pirates turned in a 4-1 worksheet, winning their group with a 3-0 mark, while the Wildcats, Rams and Knights forged 2-1 marks in their respective groups.
Not faring as well were Clayton, Smithfield-Selma, Apex and Athens Drive. The Comets, Spartans and Jaguars failed to produce a win in group action, while Apex turned in a 1-2 round-robin ledger.
“We had a very good day,” said Pirates coach Eric Wischhusen. “We finished 4-1 and had a really good shot at being in the championship but a few individual losses hurt us pretty bad. Overall, I think we did really well.”
The Pirates opened their day with a resounding 70-7 victory over Wilson Hunt, then pounded Knightdale 51-19 and ended group action with a 75-6 thumping of under-manned Northern Vance.
Semifinal action saw the Pirates facing the Cougars, trading victories through the first four weight classes and seemingly on to victory in the 152 division when Matt Duncan accidentally pinned himself.
That loss left the Pirates in a 15-10 disadvantage, which grew to 27-13.
“No doubt he (Duncan) was the better wrestler in the match, he was in total control,” Wischhusen said. “But a lot of great wrestlers have pinned themselves in the past, and whole lot more will in the future.”
Corinth Holders battled back, winning for of the next five bouts, including pins by William Floyd and Dustin Brennan, rallying to a 31-30 lead. But the Cougars dug down and received a pin at 120 from Mitchell Goldbaugh to earn the berth in the finals.
The Pirates didn’t dwell on the defeat, and despite trailing New Bern by a 27-9 margin midway though the third-place match, took charge with six wins in the final seven bouts for the team triumph.
West and Cleveland found themselves relegated to the 5th-8th place matches, dropping narrow decisions to New Bern and WF-Rolesville, respectively, and simultaneously on adjoining mats.
West, which defeated Apex 52-27 and Clayton 65-9, lost a pair of overtime decisions that led to a 40-9 deficit to New Bern. The Wildcats rallied valiantly, but ran out of time, falling 40-32.
The Wildcats’ win over Clayton was the 200th dual match win in the program’s short history.
However, West rebounded, knocking off Southern Nash, 41-31 in its first placement match, then rallied by Cleveland, 34-31 for fifth place.
“Against New Bern, everything was working out,” said Wildcats coach David Prendergast. “Unfortunately, we had two overtime losses that changed the dynamic of what we planned to do.”
Cleveland deserved a better fate In its group play.
The Rams routed Triton, 56-17 in their opening meet, and built a 30-13 lead over Wake Forest-Rolesville in their second meet. But the Cougars ripped off seven consecutive wins to claim its winner’s pool berth, 37-30.
Cleveland rebounded with a 57-22 rout of Athens Drive, and earned its berth in the fifth place match against West by drubbing Knightdale, 47-27.
Knightdale then fell to Southern Nash in the seventh-place bout, 59-18.
“We had four starters out today,” said Rams coach Scott Barnes. “I’m proud of the way the boys wrestled.”