North Forsyth exceeded expectations this season, but came up short of a state duals championship.
The Raiders fell to Rockdale County 38-21 in the quarterfinals of the Class 6A Team Dual Wrestling Championship on Friday at the Macon Centreplex and finished the tournament tied for seventh place after a 39-35 loss to North Gwinnett in the consolation bracket.
"I told them to hold their heads up high," North head coach Travis Jarrard said. "In July we were rebuilding and replacing nine starters. … I’m disappointed with the loss, but we had a tremendous amount of positives. We happened to play a very, very good team.
"We’ll have a lineup of 10 or 11 returning starters that will have experience in that environment."
North fell behind 20-12 early in the first round, but went on a 30-7 run to top East Coweta 50-19. The Raiders used wins from Preston Ernst (120), Jullian Benton (126), Ara Johnson (138), Patrick Englishby (145), Shane Cross (152) and Polo Perez (170) and pins from Keigan Radake (182), Austin Thornton (220), Luke Slaton (132) and Matt Carroll (160) to advance and face Rockdale County.
"We came out a little flat against Rockdale," Jarrard said. "They have a good team, so I don’t want to take anything away from them, but [we] were a little tired from [the] emotion [spent] from last week."
The loss sent North (25-7) to the consolation bracket to face Chattahoochee, a rematch of the Area 6-AAAAAA dual championship in which the Raiders rallied from a 23-point deficit to win by four points.
The Raiders had another tight match with the Cougars on Saturday, as North led 37-36 going into the final bout before Thornton secured the 43-36 victory with a pin.
North immediately turned its attention to North Gwinnett and led 36-35 in the final match, but wasn’t able to muster another heroic effort from Thornton, who lost by decision.
North senior Matt Carroll went 4-0 in the tournament with three pins to improve his season record to 40-0 with 33 pins. Carroll reached the 100-win career mark and is 13 pins away from tying the school record for most pins in a season.
"I think [his chance of breaking the record] comes down to how many [matches] he gets," Jarrard said.
"If he gets a No. 1 seed and a bye, it’s one less. There are some high quality kids, too."
North will try to forget about its state duals loss and now focus on the traditional side of the wrestling season.
"I spent about 30 seconds [on the loss]," Jarrard said. "You have to be constantly moving forward. You look at what you need to fix and focus on the next thing."
The Raiders will get back in competition on Friday and Saturday in the Bulldog Brawl Tournament at Forsyth Central High School.