After two years of waiting, the Person High School wrestling team finally got to host its own tournament again.
And when the full day on the mats were over, the Person grapplers left with the biggest trophy after winning the Rocket Invitational Saturday.
Rocket wrestlers won six weight classes and were second in five others as they coasted to a comfortable victory in the team competition. Person amassed 184.5 points, 73.5 more than second place South Granville.
Chapel Hill was third with 95.5 and Bartlett Yancey (64.5) and Webb (47) rounded out the top five in the nine-team field.
“It turned out really well,” Person coach Mark Litchfield Jr. said. “After a two year layoff, to come back and take first place is definitely a good feeling. It was good for the seniors to have their day and enjoy the process.”
Most of the weight class champions were determined by round-robin format.
The Rockets excelled up and down the lineup, starting with Diego Jimenez’s championship at 113 pounds. Jimenez won all three of his matches by pinfall, two coming less than 40 seconds into the first period.
Last year’s state finalist Logan Bates was 3-0 at 120 pounds, winning all of his matches by pin, while Landon Moser had to put in a little extra work on the mat to claim his title at 126 pounds. Moser was 5-0 on the day, including three first-period pins.
Justin Breeze claimed the championship at 145 pounds with a 4-0 record, including outlasting Kevin Bell of South Granville for a 5-3 decision in his last match.
Alexander Martinez was the champion at 152 pounds after winning all three of his matches. He capped off his day with a second-period pin of Andrew Crisco of Bluestone (Va.).
Keith Thompson claimed the title after defeating Caevon Wilson of George Washington (Va.) twice, both by first-period pins.
Ricky Powell (106), Dawson Thibodeau (138), Nick Jimenez (170) and Marcus Vincent (285) all finished second in their weight classes.
Francisco Mondragon was third at 132 pounds, while 160-pounder Christian Milligan finished fourth in his class.
“I think everyone really stood out,” Litchfield Jr. said. “I know Landon pinned every guy and he had a really good day. It was good to get the pins and get the points off of that. In tournaments, getting those points is important and I stressed that to them. Diego, Logan Bates, Justin Breeze all went undefeated. Everybody did their job. Whether it was win them all or lose them all, them all came in and competed.”
The Rocket Invitational has been an annual event for the team and a highlight to the season, but has been canceled the past two years because of winter weather on day of the tournament. For Litchfield, being able to host the day-long event again is a major plus for his wrestlers and the program as a whole.
“It’s very important,” Litchfield Jr. said. “It’s not the biggest tournament that we go to, but it’s important for our team and for wrestling in Person County, in general. It’s our major fundraiser and it’s great to see a lot of people turning out and supporting wrestling. I just want to think all of the parents for coming out and helping. If it wasn’t for them, this wouldn’t be possible. They do as much work as anyone else. We really appreciate them.”
Person will return to conference competition Friday when it hosts McMichael for a 6 p.m. meet and will travel to Bartlett Yancey for a tournament Saturday.