One team and 10 individuals returned to Hanover County Saturday night holding the title of “state champion” as the 2013-14 swimming and wrestling seasons came to a close.
In swimming action, youth was served as freshman Olivia Fisher of Atlee and sophomore Ted Schubert of Patrick Henry both won two individual state titles at the 2014 5A State Swimming Championships at the Collegiate School Aquatic Center in Chesterfield.
Schubert won the 100 backstroke in an eye-popping 49.97, besting runner-up Wyatt Grubb of Atlee (51.26) by over a second. Previously, Schubert captured the 200 individual medley (IM) in 1:51.05. Grubb bounced back with a state title of his own, winning the 100 butterfly in 51.05.
Fisher first took home gold with a win in the 50 freestyle, finishing in 23.91, then took top prize in the 100 freestyle in 51.56. The freshman wasn’t too afraid of the big stage, having competed already at the national level, along with Grubb, at the NCSA Championships.
“Of course I felt a little nervous, but nerves aren’t always a bad thing as long as you know how to control them,” Fisher explained. “I’ve been working very hard in and out of the pool, so I needed to trust my training.”
Fisher’s two victories were part of the reason why Atlee’s girls team finished third overall with 173 points, just 17 behind runner-up Thomas Jefferson of Alexandria. Brittany Wilkerson came home a state champion, winning the 200 freestyle in 1:54.37. Lee-Davis’ Hannah Ikenberry finished fourth in 1:59.99. Junior Oakleigh Hogg placed fourth in the 100 breaststroke in 1:09.36.
But there was another freshman who shined on Saturday as well, bringing a state title home to Confederate Nation. Molly Sheffield, who previously told the Herald-Progress her eyes were on the prize up for grabs Saturday, seized it, winning the 100 butterfly in 55.39.
Sheffield, too, came close to a double victory, taking third overall in the 200 IM, finishing in 2:07.65. Lee-Davis finished ninth as a team in girls competition with 84 points. The Atlee boys finished sixth overall at 108 points.
On the other side of the state, the Hanover Hawks competed in the 4A State Championships and did not leave Christiansburg empty-handed. Sarah Browning became the eighth and final state swimming champion for the county, capturing the girls 500 freestyle title with a time of 5:10.16. The win helped the Hawks finish 10th in girls team competition with 81 points. Browning also placed third in the 200 IM in 2:12.55.
Beset all season by injury and finally at the best shape of the year, the Hanover Hawks had two individual state titlists en route to winning the 2014 4A State Wrestling Championship late Saturday night at the Salem Civic Center.
J.D. Gregory won his second straight state title, overcoming a fourth seed ranking and two close calls to win the 126-pound championship by fall in just 51 seconds over Caden Darber of Jamestown. Gregory won the state title under the former Group AAA format last year at 113 pounds.
Corbin Allen, a state runner-up in 2013, broke the glass ceiling with a state championship at 152 pounds for the Hawks, winning in the final by major decision, 12-1 over Carter Page of Smithfield. Allen was never truly tested at the tourney, winning his other two matches by fall.
Coming ever so close to making it three individual championships was T.J. Allen at 182 pounds. But Allen ran into nationally ranked Dylan Wisman of Millbrook High School in the finals, falling by a 10-2 margin.
“I respect Wisman a lot. He’s well known in the wrestling community,” Allen noted. “There’s nothing I would change about how I wrestled the match. It was one of my best matches since my injury, but it wasn’t enough.”
Placing second gave Hanover key points in the team race. So did a fourth place showing by Bishop Guempel at 195 pounds, and more so, Gray Hart’s runner-up performance at 106 pounds. Hart fought tooth and nail in the championship before losing to Aaron Black of James Wood by a 3-1 count.
In the end, the Hawks took home the team trophy to Hanover with 96.5 points, six better than runner-up Fauquier County. Smithfield was third with 88.5. Nearby Glen Allen was 12th overall with 34 points.
This was a case where the new VHSL reclassification was a benefit to schools in the Richmond area, as Matoaca High School in Chesterfield won the 5A State team title on the same day, meaning both the Warriors and Hawks could return to Central Virginia with the title of “state champions.”
At the 5A event, Lee-Davis finished ninth in team competition with 42 points. By comparison, Matoaca won with 115. Hayden Keener, Conference 11 champion and 5A South Region runner-up at 113 pounds, finished fourth in the state, while Chris Morris took third place at 132 pounds, winning his final match in the consolation final by a 9-6 count. David Boyle finished sixth overall at 152 pounds.
For Atlee, Tanner Bazemore finished fourth at 170 pounds, losing the consolation final for third place to the same wrestler that beat him a week earlier for the 5A South Region crown, Max Ketcherside of Kellam, by a 4-3 score. Charlie Belvin was injured after falling to Patrick Henry’s Jake Harris in the first round of the 182-pound division by fall in 3:29. Belvin finished eighth.
Harris led the Patrick Henry contingent out of 5A North with a third place finish. After losing 5-3 to eventual state champion Konner Pritchard of Princess Anne in the semifinals, Harris bounced back to win the consolation final 5-4 over Jesse Monde of Great Bridge. Jeremy Roup finished seventh at 132 pounds, while Isaiah Morris was eighth at 195 pounds.
In arguably her best performance for Patrick Henry, and possibly the best-ever performance in school history, Kristen Valasek finished second in the All-Around at the 2014 5A State Gymnastics Championships on Saturday in Virginia Beach in her last appearance as a Patriot.
Valasek grabbed everyone’s attention with a 9.9 performance on the bars, good enough for second place. She also finished fifth in floor exercise (9.4), plus scored 9.475 on vault and 9.350 on beam, the rotation that had given her fits at the Conference and Region tournaments the past two weeks.
Patriot teammate Keion Greenhow competed in the vault and finished with a 9.425, just one-tenth of a point out of the top six.