The Salem Civic Center will be packed with wrestlers and fans from across the state when the Class 1, 2 and 3 state championships are held at the facility this weekend.
There will be eight mats of action when wrestling begins with first round matches at 10 a.m. Friday. Class 1 and 2 will wrestle on two matches each with Class 3 wrestling on four mats to begin the weekend. Quarterfinals and first round consolation matches will be at 1 p.m. Friday and more consolation bracket bouts will take place Friday evening.
State semifinals in all classes will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday and go to approximately 11:30 a.m. Consolation semifinals are at noon, consolation finals are at 1:30 p.m. and championship finals are due to start at 5 p.m.
The Lord Botetourt and James River wrestling teams will be well-represented after strong performances in their respective region meets last Saturday. Lord Botetourt finished second in the Region 3D tournament behind champion Staunton River, who had 283.5 points. Botetourt finished with 202.5, third place William Byrd had 183 and third place Northside had 134 as the Blue Ridge District took the top four spots in the 12-team tournament.
“Our kids wrestled well,” said LB coach Chuck Burton. “I’m really proud of all their efforts. We ended up entering 12 guys in the tournament and all 12 won a match and scored team points, and 11 of the 12 placed in the top six.”
The top four advanced to the state tournament and LB had nine advance, including two champions. Andrew Gilbert is 21-8 after winning the 190-pound bracket. He pinned Andrew Myers of Carroll County in the championship match in 1:36.
Dalton Oxley is 26-7 after taking the 215-pound region title. He pinned Austin Powell of Staunton River in the final in 3:16.
Three other Cavs made it to the finals and finished second. Trey Saunders is now 22-10 at 132, Gray Arnold is 27-6 at 144 and TJ Piluso lost for just the second time in 35 matches at 165, falling to Macon Ayers of Staunton River.
Ben Gilbert won his consolation final at 285 to finish third. Finishing fourth, and qualifying for state, were Joseph Bierece at 106, Cody Williams at 120 and Xavier Williams at 175.
“The kids are peaking at the right time, now we hope to carry that fight into this weekend and hope that we are battle tested enough,” said Burton. “At this point in the year, there aren’t any easy matches left. Every one of them will be a dog fight.”
James River played host to the Region 2C tournament in Springwood last Saturday and finished third. Glenvar won the title with 248.5 points followed by Patrick County at 188, River at 165 and Alleghany and Radford tied for fourth with 163 points each.
River had three tournament champions and qualified five for the state tournament. In Class 2 only the top three from each region advance to the “Big Show.”
At 106 Xaiden Wynn earned his second consecutive Region 2C championship title when he major decisioned Glenvar High School’s Alan Vu, 10-2. Wynn secured multiple low single takedowns and a cross-face cradle to secure back points for the major decision victory. Wynn improves his record to 33-2 and has 29 pins on the year.
At 113 Brayden Forbes earned his first Region 2C title. The sophomore faced Appomattox High School’s junior Jeremiah Gonzin in the finals and won by pin fall over Gonzin in the 1:52 mark of the first period. Forbes improves his record to 31-3 on the year, 28 of those wins by pin.
Nate Stewart, a freshman at 120 pounds, accomplished a Region 2C championship by defeating Patrick County High School’s junior Ethan Cobbler. Stewart turned Cobbler to his back for a pin fall at the 1:47 mark of the first period.
Stewart was the only freshman to win a championship out of the three freshmen that entered the region finals. Nate recorded three victories Saturday, all by pins, to earn his championship. Stewart improves his record to 35-10 with 26 wins by pin.
Also qualifying for states were Evan Byers with a second at 132 and 126-pounder Josiah Merchant, who finished third. Both are freshmen.
Scoring for River, but not qualifying for state, were Jayden Alston with a fourth at 165, Elias Echavarria with a fifth at 215 and two sixth places, Maddox Woodyard at 138 and Landon Dillow at 150.
“I am happy with the way we finished up,” said River coach Bobby Stewart. “I would have never thought at the beginning of the year we were going to place third as a team in the region. I knew we were really young but these guys showed up. The trifecta we have in the first three weights is a great situation. Xaiden, Brayden, and Nate have all honed their skills and are ready to accomplish some great things next week at States.”
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