It was a crucial weekend of wrestling for the Hanover Hawks inside their home gym, hosting the first-ever Conference 20 Duals, a regular season showdown featuring the seven teams of the new division of the VHSL’s 4A South Region.
The Duals would help determine seeding for the upcoming postseason tournament Feb. 8 in Dinwiddie. But for Hanover, their appearance this weekend came with a significant issue: injuries.
Hanover head coach Aaron Bradley chose to see the glass half full.
“We are currently missing seven of 14 starters due to injuries,” Bradley said. “This has allowed our younger guys to gain valuable experience at the varsity level.”
In the end, the combination of healthy veterans and newcomers allowed the Hawks to go 3-3 against their six conference foes, defeating Midlothian, Monacan and Caroline, while falling to Dinwiddie, J.R. Tucker, and Glen Allen. The Jaguars “won” the Duals by going 6-0 overall, and their win over Hanover was convincing at 60-10.
Only Tyler Flora (120) and J.D. Gregory (126) were victorious in the dual with Glen Allen. In the Caroline win, by a count of 39-37, Alex Dillard’s (285) 11-6 decision over Daronte Rollins helped ensure the victory.
Gregory, a defending state champion now working in a higher weight class, went 6-0, winning five by pin and one by forfeit. Flora also went unbeaten, while Gray Hart won five of six.
“At this point, none of the injuries are season-ending, so we should have the full starting lineup ready to go for the postseason,” Bradley noted after the Duals.
That would mean the return of such standouts as Corbin Allen, state runner-up a year ago, Bishop Guempel, and Christian Unger. Hanover faced private school power St. Christopher’s at home on Wednesday night (after presstime).
The other three county schools participated in the 2014 Deep Run Duals at Deep Run High School. For Patrick Henry, it was a strong beginning, but a disappointing end, winning their first three duals over rival Atlee (51-28), James River (63-5) and King William (56-18), only to fall in their final three, 40-28 to archrival Lee-Davis, 44-28 to Patrick Henry-Roanoke, and 38-33 to George Marshall.
As it turned out, the Patriots lost to two of the top three teams in the 20-team field, as Patrick Henry-Roanoke placed second overall (160 points) to champion Louisa (171), while Lee-Davis finished third at 159.
The Confederates will grapple in the Big Blue Invitational in Christiansburg this weekend, while Atlee and Patrick Henry return to the West End, this time for the Tiger Invitational at J.R. Tucker.