The Lord Botetourt wrestlers claimed their second tournament championship of the young season last week when the Cavaliers captured the prestigious Big Orange Classic in Vinton. James River finished sixth among 18 schools and had three champions.
LB finished with 192 points to 186.5 for second place Liberty Christian, while Blacksburg was third at 174, host William Byrd was fourth at 161.5, Salem was fifth with 160 and a James River team that didn’t fill all the weight classes still took sixth with 155 points. It was Lord Botetourt’s second tournament championship of the season after winning the Titan Toughman at Hidden Valley on December 11.
“All the credit on this one goes to the kids and my assistant coaches,” said LB coach Chuck Burton. “They put the work in and got themselves ready to go. We had 12 weight classes entered and 10 of the 12 scored points for us over the course of the tournament. That’s huge in an individual tournament like the Big Orange. You’ve got to have kids wrestling well and scoring bonus points to pull one out.”
Botetourt had one champion, Andrew Gilbert at 170. He pinned Hushan Suliman of Patrick Henry in 2:43 in the final to pick up the title. Colin Sell made it to the championship bout at 138 but settled for second after losing to Tharun Svetanant of Blacksburg in the final.
James River entered the tournament with only eight wrestlers among 14 weight classes but six of the eight reached the semifinal round, guaranteeing them a top six finish. Five of those wrestlers won their semifinal match and three won Big Orange titles.
Freshman Xaiden Wynn continued his terrific start to his high school career by defeating Xavier Ramsey of Pulaski County in the final, 11-2. Chase Cuddy won the 126-pound class with a 6-4 win over Braden Henderson of Blacksburg and Carder Miller pinned Dawson Martin of Radford in 4:31 at 195. Bryson Forbes took second at 113 and Hunter Forbes was runner-up at 160.
“Overall, we had an excellent tournament, in my opinion a better tournament than any other team there,” said River coach Bobby Stewart. “You have to look at the statistics and understand why I say we dominated the tournament. We brought 50 percent of a full team and finished sixth as a team. We had more wrestlers in the championships than any of the teams that finished ahead of us and we had more champions than any other team ahead of us. So, if we look at the numbers and statistics we did dominate the tournament.”
River will return to action on Wednesday of this week in the Parry McCluer quad in Buena Vista along with Turner Ashby, Strasburg and the host Blues. On January 5 the Knights have a dual match at Franklin County and on January 7 and 8 they’re in a tournament at Liberty Christian Academy in Lynchburg.
Lord Botetourt will wrestle Glenvar and host Salem at Salem High on Wednesday night, January 5. The Cavs and Glenvar have had a good rivalry in this young season and Salem has its best team in years, so that should be a good night of wrestling.
“I really like where we’re at right now, as we’ve not come close to getting in the best shape we can be in and we’re nowhere close to being technically sound,” said Burton. “We’re still sloppy with some technique and conditioning, and our approaches to some of our matches was not where it should be. That means, we’ve wrestled well already and have opportunity to get better as the season moves along.
“My main goal as a head coach is to surround myself with people that are great people and know how to teach kids. Without a doubt, I’ve done that. Reed Carpenter, Randall Sell, Paul Craft, and John Carlton are some of the best men I know and know how to get kids ready to wrestle. Tip of the hat to those guys, because they are the reason we’re wrestling well right now.”