Lord Botetourt took second and James River was seventh in the 16-team Highlander Invitational wrestling tournament at Glenvar High School last Saturday. Grundy High repeated as tournament champion in dominating fashion, outscoring the runner-up Cavaliers by over 100 points.
Both local schools had two champions at Glenvar. Colin Sell won the 126-pound championship for LB while Noah Shephard took the 160-pound title. Sell won an 8-3 decision over Brian Habel of Wilson Memorial in the final while Shephard beat Gavin Snyder of Blacksburg, 3-2.
River had champions with Hunter Forbes at 145 and Levi Walker at heavyweight. Forbes won a semifinal match over Nick Young of Lord Botetourt, then upset the defending Class 1 state champion, Jake Stiltner of Grundy, 6-2 in the final. Forbes is now 19-2.
“Hunter, in my opinion, should have been voted the outstanding wrestler of the tournament,” said River coach Bobby Stewart. “Hunter gave up a takedown early in the match and it almost seemed like that clicked a switch. He came back and commanded the rest of the match. It was an excellent match to watch. I was ecstatic with his performance and he also avenged a loss from early in the year against Nick Young, 4-0.”
Walker defeated Logan Looney from Grundy High School in the championship bout, 3-2.
“It was a well wrestled match against a tough opponent and a great confidence booster as we approach into the postseason,” said Stewart.
Young wrestled back to take third in the Highlander for LB and Conner Shiflett also finished third at 170. Brogan Shutts, Sam Francis and Andres Arreallano all took fourth.
For River, Mason Stewart made the finals before losing to Chris Stiltner of Grundy in the final, 5-2. Chase Cuddy took third at 113 and Craig Bowyer and Addison McCaleb each took sixth.
“We had a good tournament and our kids wrestled well,” said Stewart. “We’re right where we want to be going into the post-season. We’ll make some adjustments and work on our technique and fine tune some things over the next couple of weeks in an effort to peak here at the end of the season.”
The tournament concluded the regular season for the Knights. They finished 17-5 in duals and will now get ready for the Region 2C tournament at James River on February 15.
“We finished better or equal in every tournament that we performed in,” said Stewart. “The season was a big success. Another season of our opponent teams realizing that James River wrestling has a foothold amongst them. They know we are here, they know we are coming, they know we are growing.”
Lord Botetourt also won the Blue Ridge District meet at William Byrd last Wednesday. LB coach Chuck Burton was named BRD Coach of the Year and the Cavaliers had 11 wrestlers place, including BRD champion Cole McCray at 106. Seconds went to Trey Saunders, Nick Young, Sam Francis and Noah Shepard.
“It was more a war of attrition as most every team there had some sickness and injuries leading up to the tournament,” said Burton. “Our kids wrestled well and performed in the moment. We had several kids step up and wrestle some of their best matches of the year, but we also lost some we shouldn’t have and will learn from those as we prepare for regions in two weeks.”