It was a “win for Wynn” in Saturday night’s state wrestling championships at the Salem Civic Center as James River’s Xaiden Wynn led the Knights to a 10th place finish. Strasburg, the pre-tourney favorite, was the team champion and Glenvar of the Three Rivers District took second.
Wynn, a sophomore, took advantage of his regional championship benefit and had a first round bye in the state tournament. In the quarterfinal round he faced Evan Brinkley of Central Wise High. Wynn secured a first round win by pin fall to advance to the semi-finals.
In the semi-finals Wynn faced Poquoson High foe Kam Harrell. Wynn again made light work and recorded the win by pin fall in 1:44 of the second period, advancing him to the championship finals where he would face Owen Almany of John Battle.
Almany, securing the first takedown, took a quick lead on Wynn at the beginning of the match. Almany rode the first period out with heavy pressure trying to turn Wynn to no avail. The first period proved to be cantankerous for Wynn. Xaiden experienced a dislocated shoulder during the repetitive pressure Almany was applying to Wynn’s shoulder. After a short injury time Wynn was strapped up and ready to proceed.
“It popped out and hurt the rest of the way,” said Wynn. “It felt like a knife inside my shoulder. The doctor said I need to have an operation, but I wasn’t going to let it stop me.”
In the second period Wynn secured a low level mat reversal and tied the score up at 2-2. With his sights set on the top of the podium Xaiden secured his infamous cross face cradle on Almany, turned him to his back and won by pin fall in 1:47 of the second period.
Xaiden finishes his season with a 36-2 record. Of the 36 wins, 32 of them are pins. Xaiden is now a two-time state placer, adding a championship to his 4th place finish last year as a freshman.
Nate Stewart, a freshman, also made the final at 120. After advancing to Saturday morning’s semifinals Stewart would face Poquoson’s James Withrow to battle for advancement to the championship finals. Withrow led 5-2 halfway through the third period but with time running out, Stewart secured a reversal with a near fall to end the controversial third period with a tied score and send the match into sudden victory.
Sudden victory is determined by the first wrestler to achieve a takedown and this must be completed within one minute. Stewart secured his takedown and catapulted himself into the championship finals match, where he fell to Canaan Spears of Union High.
Stewart finished the season at 37-11 and is the first freshman from James River to ever make the state championship finals. Previously, third place was the best any freshman had ever accomplished.
Brayden Forbes made the semifinals at 113 before falling to Jared Goodson of Poquoson, who went on to win the state championship in that class. Brayden finished fourth and ended the season with a 33-5 record.
Josiah Merchant and Evan Byers also wrestled in the tournament but did not place. The state entries were comprised of the new young regime of the Knights.
“What a weekend we had,” said coach Bobby Stewart. “I would have never thought that we would qualify five for the state this year, we are just so young and inexperienced. I never thought we would end up in the top 10 as a team either. There were 36 other teams there and we finished 10th and I am happy about that.”
Next up is the girls state tournament on Friday and Saturday of this week at Unity Reed High School in Manassas. Georgia Miller, Carli Edwards and Brianna Mitchell, all freshmen, will make the trip to represent James River and compete in the first female state championships.