The James River Knights came away with a sixth place team finish at the Big Blue in Christiansburg Saturday. The tournament, won by Staunton River, was condensed from two days to one due to the effects of last week’s snowstorm and 18 of the original 22 teams participated.
Ten wrestlers entered the tournament for the Knights and four found their way into the championship semi-final matches, 106-pound Xaiden Wynn, 126-pound Chase Cuddy, 160-pound Hunter Forbes and 195-pound Carder Miller. At the end of the semi-final matches one lone Knight, Miller, advanced to the championship match where he was the eventual champion in the 195-pound weight class. Carder pinned Seth Anderson of George Washington High of West Virginia in just 56 seconds in the championship match.
Wynn fell short to George Washington’s Ben McComas and wrestled back to a third place finish winning against Natalia Snachez from Powhatan High School. At 126, Cuddy wrestled a nail-biter against Brentsville District’s Jackson Stroud, losing 1-0 and also wrestling back to a third place finish, beating Dalton Minnick from Abingdon in his consolation finals match.
At 160, Hunter Forbes, wrestling in arguably the toughest weight class in the tournament, lost a close semi-final match, 7-6, to eventual champion Jacob Baier from Christiansburg. Hunter finished the day with a fourth place finish after his match up with third place finisher Macon Ayers from Staunton River High School.
Other wrestlers not entering the championship semi-final matches made the trek through the consolation brackets and fought their way back to top eight finishes out of the 16-man brackets. Freshman Brayden Forbes navigated his way to a sixth place finish in the 113-pound weight class. Senior Craig Bowyer wrestled his way back to a fifth place finish in the 120-pound weight class, defeating Mason Hylton from Glenvar High School. Senior Wesley Ferguson rounded off his day with a seventh place finish in the 145-pound weight class by defeating Blacksburg High School’s Robert Baker.
The sixth place team finish is the highest finish the Knights have ever accomplished in the powerhouse tournament, falling 13.5 points behind fifth place team finisher Glenvar High School. Staunton River was first, followed by a second place tie between Washington High of West Virginia and host Christiansburg. Powhatan was fourth, Glenvar was fifth and then came River.
“This tournament is known to be a tough tournament and we performed well,” said coach Bobby Stewart. “There are a couple of nail-biter one point losses we experienced in the semi finals that would have been a game changer as the team standing shook out and we most likely would have won those weight class titles as well. That would have made us top five for sure.”
This Saturday the Knights will participate in the Highlander Invitational at Glenvar High School.
“Now we get in full-fledged post-season focus,” said Stewart. “We attend this tournament annually and we see some additional region and state competitors that helps with seeding as we move into postseason tournaments.
“Our goal is a fourth consecutive Region 2C title and a top two team finish in the state tournament. We want to put a banner on the gym wall.”