Heritage High School will host the “Ring in the New Year” wrestling tournament this week to close out the 2022 portion of the high school mat schedule. Both Lord Botetourt and James River are entered in the tournament, which begins today at 10 a.m. and runs through Friday.
This will be River’s first action on the mats since the Big Orange Classic at William Byrd on December 17. Lord Botetourt won the Big Orange, and last week the Cavs added another notch to their belts with a championship in the Blue Ridge District Duals at Northside High School. LB beat William Byrd, Northside and Franklin County to earn the title of Blue Ridge District champions.
“That made us BRD champs as that was our BRD championships for the year,” said LB coach Chuck Burton. “Our kids wrestled well and I’m glad we were able to get out and compete in front of our fans. Developing a local fan base is a great thing for this sport. I feel like too often we forget that.”
The Cavaliers beat Byrd by a score of 66-18. They took down host Northside, 51-30, and beat Franklin County, 60-24. A good crowd showed up to watch the Cavaliers in what is becoming a rarity in high school wrestling, head-to-head team matches in the middle of the week.
“Back in the days of old, single dual matches were the hit of the week and drew large crowds,” said Burton. “Now, it feels like teams feel like they need to go to multiple two-day events and travel out of the area every weekend. I think these local things are important for our sport and we have to find a way to get back to making it important.
“There is no other sport in high school that has as many hoops to jump through and things to do in order to just go compete. With the hydration and body fat testing, having to make weight, etc., it’s become more common place that if a kid is gonna make weight, they should compete as many times in that one event as possible. While it is important to get out of the area from time to time, we’ve got to find a way to make local wrestling thrive again.”
Botetourt sent a full team to the mats last week and that’s a big bonus in dual competition. Every spot that’s forfeited costs a team six points in the score in dual matches.
“There is definitely strength in numbers,” said Burton, who feels matches like this help get young kids interested in the sport. “For the BRD teams that were able to make it Wednesday, it helps the fan base get to see them near home. We had several of our middle school wrestlers make it over for the event, which will just help foster their relationship with the sport and gives them something to look forward to.”