If there’s any sort of rebuilding project going on at North Forsyth this season, construction appears to be on a fast track.
Despite graduating seven seniors from last year’s wrestling team, the Raiders earned their third consecutive Forsyth County championship and ninth in 13 years on Saturday at South Forsyth High School. North never faced a strong challenge, as it defeated each local opponent by 23 points or more and finished the day 4-0.
The meet served as a milestone for Raiders head coach Travis Jarrard, who tallied his 300th career duals victory.
"It was a big day for us," Jarrard said. "It was important to all of us to win because [the school doesn’t] win county championships that often. We wanted to give the students something they could hang their hats on."
At the end of Saturday’s competition, the standings looked no different than they did a year ago. Lambert took second place followed by West Forsyth (third), South Forsyth (fourth) and Forsyth Central (fifth).
North defeated Central (67-11), South (68-6) and West (51-24) before taking home the championship with a victory over Lambert. The Raiders (13-3) found themselves in a 29-22 hole against the Longhorns, but they responded with 30 unanswered points to win 52-29.
"We fell behind [Lambert] early and then hit the meat of our order," Jarrard said. "The last five [matches] were more favorable to us.
"We had several guys step up. One of my assistant coaches told me that the team is better tonight than they were this morning, and I believe that. I think we found our identity."
Matt Carroll (160 pounds) posted the most impressive day out of several strong individual performances by the Raiders. Carroll recorded three pins and one win by technical fall to improve to 16-0 on the season with 15 pins.
"Coach [Jarrard] told us that this is our backyard and we had to defend it," said Carroll, who qualified for state last season.
"We were going to have to see [opposing wrestlers] around town, so we needed to win it. Everybody says we’re a young team, but Coach tells us we’re not rebuilding, we’re reloading."
The senior, who trains three times per week at a practice facility in Roswell, has already matched his total of 15 pins last season and has his eyes set on the single-season team-record of 45, along with a state championship.
"I’ve just devoted all my time to wrestling," Carroll said. "It feels pretty good to see my hard work paying off; it’s really satisfying. It’d be cool if I got [the record], but it’s OK if I don’t.
"I’d like to win my last match [at the state tournament] and win first, third or fifth while having fun all the way."
North’s Ara Johnson (138 pounds), Patrick Englishby (145), Chad Warner (152), Jordan Cross (170) and Austin Thorton (195) also won their weight class.
Jarrard said the fans helped the team reach its first goal of the season with the tournament win.
"The atmosphere was absolutely awesome," Jarrard said. "There were tons of fans out there. The alumni and parents of [junior varsity] students were awesome. Our crowd was so big that, I think, it equaled the other four schools combined. We had a tremendous following."
Lambert’s Jack Raines (113), Andrew Morin (120) and Shahin Shayesteh (220) all won their weight classes, as did West’s Jacob Miller (106), Micah Dickman (126), Tanner Horak (132) and Austin Sanders (182), and South’s Michael Scullin (heavyweight).
The Raiders will try to carry their momentum over to tonight, when they square off against Johns Creek at Johns Creek High School.