FINCASTLE – Lord Botetourt won the intra-county rivalry on the mats last week as the Cavaliers outwrestled James River, 57-12, in the “Battle of Botetourt” in Buchanan.
“James River is a much stronger team than the score indicates,” said LB coach Robert Haynie. “Some of their best wrestlers were out so we didn’t get the showdown I was expecting. When they have everybody in the lineup, James River is one of the top tier teams in Region C and State Group A. I have great respect for the program Coaches Jennings and Crimp have at our sister school.”
“The LB match didn’t go very well, but we had a couple of positives,” said River coach Tim Jennings. “Luke(Arney), Kyle(Cook) and Creek(Turner) all won their matches, but we were without four starters and two of our best wrestlers. It would not have been easy to beat LB either way, they’re a pretty talented team and wrestling is so much about match-ups, but losing three of our better guys for a match hurts. The team wrestled extremely hard and even with the outcome I think mentally it will help us. It put some things in perspective that don’t really show up in a scorebook or scoreboard.”
On Saturday LB went to Covington to wrestle in the “War of the Wrestlers” tournament. LB won the tournament with 221 points, followed by Greenbrier East with 199, Roanoke Catholic with 168 and Turner Ashby with 103.5.
“Coach Ray Sullins did a great job of keeping the tournament alive after several WV school withdrew because of snow,” said Haynie. “We had three of our strongest varsity wrestlers out due to injuries, so going in I told the guys everyone needed to fight for every point.”
Bryan Barnett and Kyle Haley won their first tournaments ever and Aaron Gunter also took a first. Seth Carlton, Paul Lucas, Taylor Keller, Daniel Lloyd, and Brandon Winger all took second for LB.
James River was at the Daily News Leader Tournament in Stuarts Draft last weekend. River had four boys place, as Owen Deacon won at 195, King took second at 160, Ian Batterson was second at 220, and Turner was third at 170.
“It wasn’t our best outing as a team, especially since we won it last year, but we’ve had some injuries and sickness this week,” said Jennings. “There was a good mix of A and AA schools there and some of the kids got to see kids they’ll probably see again in February.”
Deacon wrestled extremely well.
“When Owen’s running at full steam, he’s hard to beat,” said Jennings. “He’s been nursing a nagging injury off-and-on, but you couldn’t tell Saturday. He didn’t get to wrestle against LB on Wednesday night because of the weight control program. That really frustrated him and he certainly made up for it Saturday.”
King wrestled two of the top three boys in Group A at 160, and he is also in the top three. Kyle beat Austin Sanchez from Stuarts Draft in the semis but lost in the finals, 4-3, to Zac Richey from Buffalo Gap, the runner-up at 160 last year.
“Both matches were really close and Kyle did a great job pushing them for three periods,” said Jennings. “He came out of the finals about as confident as he’s been all year. He knows he can beat the kid if they see each other again.”
The Knights travel to Magna Vista Saturday for the “Border Clash.” River was second in this tournament last year and won it the year before.
“The tournament gets stronger every year and I feel it will do the same again this year,” said Jennings. “It’s always great competition from Virginia, North Carolina and Tennessee, and it’s good to see schools not from our area.”
Lord Botetourt will wrestle district matches against Alleghany and Staunton River at William Byrd tonight. LB is currently 12-3 in dual matches.
“Given the tougher schedule this year, I would be very happy to close out our dual season with two more wins,” said Haynie.
This Friday and Saturday LB will participate in the “Big Blue” Tournament in Christiansburg for the first time. In past years this was held the same weekend as William Byrd’s Big Orange, a tournament LB always attends. This year the two are not on the same weekend, and the Cavs will participate in both. The Big Blue should be one of the top tournaments the Cavaliers participate in all season.