County grapplers hitting the mats for winter season
Patrick Henry’s 182-pound Jake Harris grapples with Deep Run’s David Hicks. Harris won this match 13-4, and the PH team defeated Deep Run 58-9. Nine PH wrestlers won with pins.
A defending state champion, a defending state runner-up. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for the Hanover Hawks wrestling team.
Coach Aaron Bradley’s is ready once again to make serious noise at the local, regional and state levels of competition as the 2013-14 season got underway in earnest this past week.
While most of the Hawks made the modest trip to Hermitage High School for the 2013 Richmond Invitational Wrestling Tournament, the Hawks’ top two returnees, J.D. Gregory (113 lb. state champion) and Corbin Allen (138 lb. state runner-up) traveled to Ohio for the prestigious Walsh Ironman competition.
Bradley notes the very specific reasons for being willing to send them there even though it meant his team back home wouldn’t be at full strength against some of Virginia’s better programs.
“Wrestling in the Ironman is a great opportunity for our guys to see some of the best competition in the country,” Bradley said. “The tournament is also good for getting exposure to college coaches who are in attendance.”
Certainly Gregory and Allen have what it takes to advance to collegiate competition. And while both fell short of championship goals in Ohio, they’ll return with new knowledge and more drive to become even better, a scary thought to their opponents this winter.
The Hawks at the Richmond Invitational grappled to a tie for sixth place in team competition with 115.5 points. Princess Anne High School of Virginia Beach won with 238 points.
Rising star Gray Hart, a freshman, followed up his third place finish at 106 pounds in the Hopewell Classic a week earlier with a second place showing at Hermitage, defeating Keanu Alteras of Frank Cox 10-6 in the semifinals before falling to Larry Hankins of Princess Anne by decision 4-1 in the championship.
At 182 pounds, T.J. Allen won by fall in under 90 seconds in his first two matches, took his semifinal by major decision 19-10 over Kempsville’s Hunter Goulart, then faced off against county rival Jake Harris of Patrick Henry, defeating him for the title, again by major decision, 13-5.
Sophomore Tanner Lacey transitions from football to begin to make his mark in the circle, placing fourth at 195 pounds overall, while Christian Unger had an impressive weekend, finishing second at 220 pounds.
“We have a young, but talented group this year. Three freshmen and six sophomores are starting on varsity,” noted Bradley.
The Hawks (4A), in the new postseason format of VHSL reclassification, won’t see the likes of Matoaca (5A), who placed fifth in the state last season, but will have new and familiar competition in Conference 20, including former Capital District recent rival Glen Allen, who return 13 wrestlers.
An even more radical new reality belongs to Patrick Henry, who return nine wrestlers from a team that finished 6-1 in the last year of the Colonial District, and 20-9 overall. The Patriots are off to a strong start, having easily handled Deep Run in a dual meet last week 58-9, and placing 10th as a team at the Richmond Invitational.
Becca Forsyth, who gets plenty of attention as a woman wrestling, and wrestling very well in what is considered largely a man’s sport, won her division at a tournament in King William to begin the year, and placed sixth at 106 pounds at Hermitage.
The aforementioned Harris, at 182 pounds, is likely the Patriots’ strongest individual chance for top regional and state placement. But placing well this weekend, and serving notice to the rest of Conference 16, is Tanner Jonske at 220 pounds. He wrestled very competitively, placing fourth overall at the Richmond Invitational.
Jacob Shumate, Scott Toms (also a winner in King William at 160 pounds), Isaiah Morris, Brian Smith, Jeremy Roup and Campbell Mills all return for Patrick Henry who only lost two to graduation.
Head Coach William Toney taps freshmen Thomas Alvarado, Josh Peck and Brendan White as names you may hear from significantly before the varsity season is complete.
“In Smith, Mills, and Harris, we have a solid group of senior leaders,” Toney said.
Come postseason time, the Patriots will face Albemarle, Halifax and Orange in Conference 16. Orange looks like the team to beat. The second place finishers in their old district last year (Commonwealth) are returning five starters that will help overcome the loss of seven seniors.
For Atlee and Lee-Davis, life begins anew in Conference 11 in the 5A Classification. The Raiders were young last season, but still managed a .500 season at 14-14. They return nine wrestlers with significant experience, with two promising newcomers arriving at 132 pounds.
The Raiders placed three at this past weekend’s Glenn Jones Charger Classic in Indian Head, Md. Charlie Belvin and Blake Glover each placed seventh at 182 and 113 pounds respectively, while Jacob Godbolt finished eighth at 138 pounds.
“Overall, the team showed signs of improvement, but there are still areas of need,” said Atlee head coach Steven Lagow. “We did not take a full team to this tournament as we’re still getting our lineup ready for the conference season.”
Lagow added he plans to have most of his lineup ready when Atlee hosts the annual Raider Duels taking place this Saturday. Expect to see Tanner Bazemore (170), Blake Glover (113), Gene Haynie (126), Bobby Jackson (120), Mark Kilgore (145) and Chance Johns (152) among those grappling for the Raiders.
Lee-Davis has a good nucleus returning as well as they prepare for their own Holiday Wrestling Classic this Friday and Saturday. The Confederates will be led by Chris Morris, who placed seventh in the state at 120 pounds last year. He’s wrestling at 132 pounds now and had a third place showing at the Hopewell Classic, one of nine Confederates to do so.
Hayden Keener brings experience to the mat at 113 pounds, as he, too, placed third in Hopewell. David Boyle (152) and Taylor Campbell (195) won their divisions at the event and will be counted on in Conference 11 as they face familiar foes (Atlee, Henrico, Highland Springs) and new rivals (Hermitage, Deep Run, Mills Godwin, Douglas Freeman).
Also look for good seasons from Kole Elkin at 106 pounds and heavyweight Robert Hazelwood at 285 pounds.