A bit of local payback aided Lambert in its victory at South Forsyth’s “Santa Slam” wrestling tournament Friday and Saturday.
Longhorns Quinn Crewdson and Michael Nelems avenged losses to North Forsyth wrestlers in the final dual of the Dec. 2 Forsyth County Wrestling Championships, and Lambert edged the Raiders for first place by 3.5 points in the individual bracketed meet.
“They were really excited from a redemption aspect partially and team-wise as well,” Longhorns coach Kevin Contardi said of his wrestlers.
“Any time you can have a kid come back and beat a kid they lost to a couple weeks ago, that at least makes you think you’re getting better and learning. It’s an easy sign of improvement on their part.”
Crewdson earned a decision against Luke Slaton in the 120-pounds championship after losing 8-2 on Dec. 2 at Forsyth Central. Nelems followed suit at 132 with a finals decision over Travis Scott, who won 10-9 at the county meet.
Andrew Morin (113 pounds), his brother Robert (126) and heavyweight Gantt Bauer each won his respective weight class’ title as Lambert finished with 165.5 points to North’s 162. Wheeler was close behind with 161, but top-four finishes in 10 weight classes helped the Raiders maintain runner-up status.
“We had several bright spots, and a few others weren’t so bright,” North coach Travis Jarrard said. “I think there’s lots of reasons, but they all boil down to excuses, and we’re not going to accept any of them.”
Ara Johnson and Will Robinson rolled through the 138 and 152 brackets, respectively. It was business as usual for Robinson, but Jarrard entered Johnson as North’s No. 2 guy behind senior Josh Ray, who was trying to return from a knee injury.
“I wanted to make sure Josh got into the tournament,” Jarrard said. “When I was penning the roster, I didn’t know who was going to get in as an extra. I wanted to see how Josh’s knee was doing.”
There ended up being a slot available for Johnson, and the sophomore ran the table. Ray was hurt again during his second match.
Johnson will probably be North’s No. 1 wrestler at 138 the rest of the season, Jarrard said.
Garrett Smith had the best day for tournament host South, which finished 10th out of 14 teams. Smith took second in the 220-pounds bracket, losing to St. Francis’ Mark Mongell by fall.
Three weight classes featured a North-vs.-Lambert championship match. The Longhorns won all of them, as Robert Morin slipped by John Brown with a decision in the 126 finale.
It was a big step for Lambert, Contardi said, against a team that’s been a powerhouse in Forsyth County wrestling the last few seasons.
“We’re glad to be giving those guys a run for their money, no matter if it falls our way or theirs,” Contardi said.
Things went Lambert’s way this time, adding fuel to a matchup both coaches now characterize as a rivalry.
“There was some tension, definitely,” Jarrard said. “There were a few moments on Saturday that weren’t the greatest show of humanity, but I’m glad. It’s got our guys fired up.”
Area duals are Jan. 6 and 7.