Cedar Ridge’s Tatro finishes 2nd in WRAL Invitational; Martinez places at 120 pounds

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Updated: December 20, 2021

Even with the omicron variant spreading doubt across the sports landscape once again, it’s still a time for high school wrestling teams to live again.

Traditional holiday tournament are back, at least for now, and it’s giving some of Cedar Ridge’s youngest grapplers a chance to shine on a big stage for the first time.

On Saturday in Knightdale, that person was Kaden Tatro.

Tatro, a sophomore, finished second at 170 pounds in the WRAL Invitational, a two-day tournament at Knightdale High School. Tatro reached the final after pinning Cape Fear’s Gatlan Thompson in the semifinal at 4:54.

From the very beginning of the semifinal, Tatro was in an uphill battle. Thompson scored three takedowns in the opening period, the first only 15 seconds into the match. Trailing 6-4 going into the second period, Tatro earned a quick escape point, but was down 8-5 midway through the match after Thompson scored a leg sweep for another two points.

“It was such an amazing feeling to see Kaden punch his ticket to the finals,” said Cedar Ridge wrestling coach Scott Metcalf. “Especially after he was losing early in his semi-final match then came back and pinned the kid. Shows something about his character and grit. The kid has a lot of ability and continues to get better and better as the season goes along. The future is awfully bright for him.”

In a field of 22 competitors, Tatro lost only to Wilmington Laney’s Alex Hopper in the championship match. It was the best finish for Tatro in a high school tournament. Last month during the Red Wolf Invitational at Red Wolves Arena, Tatro came in fourth place at 170 pounds.

Tatro opened with a 10-8 decision over Samuel Leguizamo of Corinth Holders in the second round. In the quarterfinals, Tatro pinned Ian Troan of the North Carolina School of Science and Math in 3:39 to punch his ticket to Saturday’s semifinals.

It was only the second high school tournament for Tatro, who was a starter for Cedar Ridge as a freshman. Last spring, wrestling season was reduced to only dual matches, individual regional and state tournaments. Traditional holiday tournaments were canceled, as were the consolation rounds of the few individual events that were allowed to continue.

As a sophomore, Tatro has a record of 21-6 with 15 pins. He leads the team in wins and pinfall victories.

Cedar Ridge junior Fernando Martinez earned a eighth place finish in the 120 pound division. As was the case in the Mideast Regionals last summer, Martinez earned a tough draw. Lucas Cotto Jr of Laney, who eventually reached the semifinals and finished third at 120, edged Martinez 7-6 in the opening round.

In the consolation round, Martinez defeated First Flight’s Jacob Kresicki 7-4. He decisioned Havelock’s Seth Bliss 4-2. Martinez is now 19-5 with nine pins this season. He has 74 career wins.

“I was also really proud of Fernando,” Metcalf said. “In his last two wins of the tournament I finally saw the switch turn on for him and things start to click on the mat. It reminded me of one of our former wrestlers Darius McLeod. There was one tournament where things finally clicked for him his senior year. And he went from a good wrestler to great wrestler.”

Cedar Ridge heavyweight Louis Tedder won his opening round match with a pin over South Brunswick’s Eli Hedblom in 3:51. At 195 pounds, Red Wolves sophomore Joe O’Melia pinned Green Hope’s David Preis in 55 seconds. In the consolation round, O’Melia pinned Apex Friendship’s John Marinaccio in :24. O’Melia defeated New Bern’s Vincent Grist via forfeit to advance to the next consolation round, where he lost to Clayton’s Tynell Streeter.

Laney dominated the tournament and won the team championship with 282.5 points. Cape Fear finished seconds with 132.5 points, barely holding off Ocean Lakes, Virginia for third. Ocean Lakes had 132 points. Cedar Ridge finished with 55 points, 20th in a 48-team field.

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