CANTON — Despite losing four starters from last year, North Forsyth's wrestling team is among the top eight teams in the state.
When Victor Reyes stepped onto the mat to wrestle in the 220-pound weight class during Friday's match against Cherokee, teammate Tristan Graham had just finished man-handling his opponent, pinning him in the second period.
Graham’s pin still put North behind 30-28 with three matches left.
Reyes had not wrestled since mid-December because of quarantining but had a chance to return the lead to North. Jarrard said he knew Cherokee did not have a 106-pound weight class wrestler, so if Reyes could pin his opponent, heavyweight Eli Edwards’ match would not matter and North would advance to the state tournament.
Reyes, who hadn't wrestled in more than a month, pinned his opponent fewer than 90 seconds into the match, sending his teammates and coaches celebrating.
“I felt confident in what we had and the plan we had in place,” Jarrard said. “I laid the plan out with the assistant coaches and there were a couple times I wanted to deviate from it, but we stuck with the plan and it worked out.”
Along with Reyes and Graham, Michael Gryder (126), Bentley Wheeler (152) and Cale Bissell (160) all won by pin. Before Wheeler’s pin, North was down 21-10, the Raiders' largest deficit of the night.
“We’re young again this year,” Jarrard said. “Even when a few things in the middle did not go our way, our guys on the back end responded and brought it home."
North finished in the top six at last year's state duals after falling to eventual runners-up Collins Hill. The Raiders, along with Lambert and West Forsyth, now have an opportunity to become the first Forsyth County wrestling team to win a state championship.
“I really think a lot of the reason we’re in a position to be wrestling for a state championship is because West is so good,” Jarrard said. “Lambert pushes us. South gives us that great competition right inside the county. I don’t think that if we aren’t wrestling those guys this season we’re where we need to be.”
North reached the second round after Dunwoody forfeited its match because of a COVID-19 outbreak.
“Getting that rest gives you an advantage since you’re not as tired but sometimes you can come out a little flat and I think we did tonight,” Jarrard said after the match. “We wrestled a little bit flat.”
The Class 7A team duals state championship tournament will be Jan. 30 at Parkview in Lilburn.
NORTH FORSYTH 43, CHEROKEE 30
113: Isaac Hall WMAJ 16-5 (4-0 NF)
120: Malik Cardenas LBF (4-6 Cherokee)
126: Michael Gryder WBF (10-6 NF)
132: Reece Davis LBF (10-12 Cherokee)
138: Christopher Henderson LBF (10-18 Cherokee)
145: Willy Verdirame LDec 7-10 (10-21 Cherokee)
152: Bentley Wheeler WBF (16-21 Cherokee)
160: Cale Bissell WBF (22-21 NF)
170: Cody Scroggins LDec 19-22 (22-24 Cherokee)
182: Cooper Eglian LBF (22-30 Cherokee)
195: Tristan Graham WBF (28-30 Cherokee)
220: Victor Reyes WBF (34-30 NF)
285: Eli Edwards WDec 7-0 (37-30)
106: Reece Meyers WFF (43-30)