The Lord Botetourt wrestlers took sixth and James River was 16th among 20 teams at the “Take Down the New Year” wrestling tournament at Heritage High School last weekend. Host Heritage won the event with William Byrd taking second.
“We competed well with the kids we had at Heritage,” said LB coach Chuck Burton. “We were missing five full-time starters from our lineup for various reasons, but we still put up a good team showing with a sixth place team finish.”
LB had a champion in TJ Piluso at 165 pounds. TJ remained undefeated after 18 matches with two pins, a tech fall and a 2-0 decision over Matt McNeil of Liberty in the championship match.
Gray Arnold finished second at 144 as he improved to 16-3. Gray had two pins and a 9-5 decision over Stevie Wood of Liberty to make the final, where he lost to CJ Cambeis of Jefferson Forest.
Dalton Oxley was fourth at 215, Andrew Gilbert (190) and Cooper Roberts (157) both took fifth and Seth Williamson was sixth at 175.
“Christmas break tournaments are tough sometimes,” said Burton. “Coming off a little break, missing starters, etc., but our guys gave great effort and got in some good solid wrestling over the two-day period. That will only help them going into January. We’re where we want to be in terms of a technical standpoint with a few things to clean up here and there. Now the push is to get in the best shape we can get in over the next month and see what happens when it matters in February.”
The Heritage tournament was one of two the James River wrestlers participated in. The boys went to the tournament in Lynchburg while the girls competed in the Godwin High School Girls Wrestling Tournament in Henrico.
The River boys came away with a couple placements to put under their belts. At 113 pounds, sophomore Brayden Forbes improved his record to 18-1 on the season when he defeated Turner Ashby’s Hunter Blosser in the championship bout with a win by pin in 3:52 in the second round.
Sophomore Xaiden Wynn took home a third place finish at 106 after dropping a nail biter in the championship semi-final round. Wynn stormed back in the consolation bracket with all falls on his way to the third place position. Wynn is now 18-1.
At 120 pounds, freshman Nate Stewart earned a fifth place finish in the tournament, improving his record to 17-5 on the season.
The girls had a record making weekend when freshman 118-pounder Carli Edwards earned a fourth place finish in the girls’ tournament in Henrico. Carli’s victories and placement marks the first female victories and first female tournament placement in James River’s wrestling history.
“Carli Edwards and Georgia Miller have both been putting in the work in the room each day,” said River coach Bobby Stewart. “They work out with each other and also get to practice with the boys, too. The ladies see all sorts of styles, strengths and techniques when they have such a diverse practice room. It only makes them better. I am excited for Georgia and Carli. They really seem to love the sport and the access to the all-female weight classes is a plus for the division. Female wrestling will continue to grow.”
Both River and LB will be back in action this weekend. The Knights will be at a two-day tournament in Lynchburg, hosted by Liberty Christian Academy, while Lord Botetourt will split up the team for two events. The Cavalier starters and a couple of alternates will head to Roanoke College in Salem for the Old Dominion Cup.
“This is an inaugural event that they tried to get going last year but got shut down,” said Burton. “We’ll be the low man on the totem pole going in with 11 quality and high placing teams in their respective divisions from last year’s state tournament. It’s a good kickoff to January to let our kids know just where they stand for the end of the year as we’ll see some of the best competition we’ll see until the state tournament.”
Botetourt’s backups will compete in the Knights of the Round Table tournament at Cave Spring High School this weekend.
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