DURHAM — Holly Springs will try to make school wrestling history now.
Taking on a tough field in the first two rounds of the N.C. High School Athletic Association 4A dual-team tournament at Northern High, the Golden Hawks walloped West Johnston 53-14 to advance to the third round for the first time in school history.
It was a coaching matchup of teacher vs. pupil, as Holly Springs coach and former N.C. State wrestler Brandon Inge had wrestled for West Johnston coach David Prendergast as a high schooler in Nottoway, Va.
“It’s always special to go against them,” Inge said. “West Johnston, they don’t beat themselves and coach P is a role model and mentor to me.
“I didn’t think we wrestled well vs. Millbrook tonight (in the opener), but they were tough. They wrestled really tough and took a couple of matches I expected us to win.”
With the rotation starting at 132 pounds, Holly Springs (38-2 and ranked No. 1 in the N&O) scored the first 12 points against West Johnston and was never challenged.
The Hawks, the Southwest Wake champions, defeated Millbrook 37-21 in their first-round match while West Johnston topped Northern Durham 48-27.
West Johnston’s win was Prendergast’s 300th career win.
“It was nice, I was glad we were able to do that,” Prendergast said. “I’m retiring after this year and want to be an assistant coach.
“We’re really looking forward to hosting the Mideast Region (individuals) next Friday night.”
Holly Springs senior Austin Galati (182 pounds) had two pins in the two matches to tie the school career record with his 77th pin. Aaron Redus (120) and Roman Flaherty (113) also had two pins, and teammates Joseph Meyers (126 and 132), Cain Devers (138), Nick Connachie (145), Daniel Richardson (160) and C.J. Toogood (285) also won twice.
“We were so-so against Millbrook,” said Galati (40-3), who is ranked No. 5 in the state. “Against West Johnston we were a lot better and wrestled like we’re supposed to.
“We’re just excited to be making school history.”
Greater Neuse River champion West Johnston (23-4) got two wins each from George Nathaniel (152), Sam Campbell (220) and Raheem Simmons (126). Simmons returned to the lineup 17 days after receiving a scary neck injury in the Jolly Roger Tournament at Corinth Holders.
The rotation for the first-round matches started at 126.
“I’m not quite back to 100 percent yet,” said Simmons (30-5). “The doctors prescribed me electric pulse and that’s helping.
“My team needs me, so I just had to come back and put the pain behind me.”
Northern, the runner-up in the PAC-6, got five victories including four pins as it ended its duals season 13-5.