The James River wrestlers are the top ranked Class 2 team in the state according to the website rankwrestler.com. With that in mind the Knights are doing everything possible to prepare for what they hope will be an eventful post-season.
“We will go into isolation before the regional tournament to decrease exposure potential,” said coach Bobby Stewart. “We are taking every necessary precaution as a team as we have a state title on the line and, as of last week, we’re ranked number one in the state.”
The Knights are hoping to host the regional but that’s still up in the air. The state will be held at the Salem Civic Center on Friday, Feb. 19, a day after Class 3 and a day before Class 1. There will be eight-man brackets this year.
“We are trying to secure regions at James River again, but that’s still not 100 percent,” said Stewart.
The Knights are making the most of their shortened season while preparing for upcoming Regions. Last Saturday River traveled to Buffalo Gap High School for a tri-meet. During the first round, the Knights wrestled Grace Christian Academy and won, 48-12. River then went on to defeat Buffalo Gap, 30-27.
“It was the first time we had visited Buffalo Gap and good competition for the day,” said Stewart. “Buffalo Gap is a team that we will see their wrestlers in our state tournament. So, competing against those guys is important so our team can gain perspective on how we match up.”
Last Tuesday, Jan. 19, was Senior Night in Springwood. The Knights recognized their senior teammates, Adam Coleman, Nathan Ferris, Addison McCaleb, Austin Miller, Chase Powell, and Mason Stewart. After the recognition, the Knights hosted Carroll County and won, 60-12, followed by a win over Stuarts Draft, 46-15.
“Stuarts Draft is another high school we face in our state tournament and it’s good to pair up against those guys and battle,” said Stewart.
Junior Hunter Forbes, a fourth place state finisher for River last year, had the most exciting match of the evening when two top state ranked wrestlers went head to head in the 160-pound division. Forbes wrestled Asher Coffey from Stuarts Draft, a senior who is number one ranked in the 152-pound class.
Hunter wrestled a great match. The first two periods were scoreless and half way through the third period Hunter found an opportunity to hit a powerful half nelson and turned Coffey for the pin.
McCaleb had a good win as well. Addison trailed early in the first period by five points but scored a reversal and secured a fall in the second period.
The Knights are back on the mats Thursday with a trip to Pulaski to take on the host Cougars and Radford.