- Last Updated on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 21:23
- Published on Tuesday, 16 February 2010 21:23
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Washington & Lee Wrestling
Every wrestling season is a marathon. This one, though, has turned into the Iditarod. On Jan. 29, the Eagle wrestling team got together for a fairly routine Friday practice in anticipation of the Northern Neck District meet, which was to be the following Wednesday. Since that time, the season has been anything but routine.
As all remotely sentient beings are well aware, Mother Nature essentially opened up a can on the bulk of American civilization and most activities (other than mechanically opening the refrigerator door every 45 minutes to see if anything new has appeared) all but ceased for the best part of two weeks. The district meet was canceled and all the Northern Neck schools found themselves preparing for the regional championships by shoveling snow and doing push-ups during daytime TV commercials. There was some consternation about whether all of the Region A teams would even be allowed to make the trek to Mathews last weekend in search of a coveted top four individual placement to qualify for the state tournament. In the end, all 12 schools found a way, including Arcadia, which made the pilgrimage from the Eastern Shore via parent caravan.
With no district meet to declare a Northern Neck District champion, Essex’s 42-42 tiebreaker criteria victory (more victories) over W&L on Jan. 28 became the de facto district championship and the Trojans were unceremoniously crowned. The Eagles, dissatisfied with second place after winning the title the last two years had a bit of extra motivation to work out during the long snow-imposed moratorium on practice.
Mathews came into the regional meet having been in session that entire week and, though they were heavily favored from the beginning, looked even more dominant than expected from the first whistle. Longtime coach Tom Holaday, in typically understated fashion, said that it was definitely an “advantage” to have practice. In the end, the Devils placed 13 wrestlers in the top four and won eight weight classes to run away with the team score. Northampton was second. The Northern Neck District showed their mettle, though, occupying the third through fifth place spots and qualifying a total of 19 grapplers for this weekend’s state tournament in Salem.
W&L had six wrestlers in the top three and nine of 10 athletes who made the trek finished in the top six, earning them an avenging third place team placement over fourth place Essex, which also qualified six for the state tournament. With four finalists and two other placewinners, Northumberland was fifth. Lancaster, victimized by injuries, finished in 12th place with one state qualifier.
The real drama of the tournament came in the finals, where the top two wrestlers in each weight class did battle and truly showed who had worked out and who had spent the unscheduled break on the couch eating proverbial bon-bons.
Junior 135-pounder Cale Coryell won an individual title for W&L, avenging a pin defeat of his own to Billy Jackson from Northumberland, who was 22-1 prior to the finals.
“I knew he was ready when I saw him warming up with such clear confidence,” Coach David Wilkerson said. “He expected to win and that made all the difference.”
Coryell was winning 8-3 in the second period when the bullishly strong Jackson locked up a standing headlock and attempted a throw, which is how he won their first match in January. Coryell rolled through the throw and put Jackson on his back, all but sealing the victory. Wilkerson called that a breathless moment but said Coryell has never wrestled better. “If he keeps that up, he’s going to be hard to beat in Salem.”
Senior Sigifredo Luna, who became W&L’s first ever four-time state qualifier, came within inches of defending the title he won last year at 140. He faced Mathews’ Chris Beale in the finals and gave up a takedown in the first period. From that point on, Beale rode Luna essentially for the rest of the match. Luna couldn’t get away and Beale couldn’t turn him to his back. For the final minute of the match, Luna was caught under Beale, but had his opponent’s arms and legs trapped such that all he had to do was pop his head out to score the all-important reversal. Incredibly, Beale, who is likely the strongest pound-for-pound athlete in the region, kept Luna’s head tucked under his stomach to earn the razor thin 2-1 decision. Both wrestlers, who will be on opposite sides of the bracket, will be threats to win the title this weekend in Salem.
The match of the tournament was the widely anticipated match between Mathews’ defending state champion and nationally 20th ranked Garrett “Fozzy” Fosdyck and his challenger, W&L’s Laine Alles, who gave him the only real match he’s had all season in a 5-1 Fosdyck victory in January. Both wrestlers pinned their way to the finals in decidedly dominant fashion and the gymnasium was abuzz with the possibility of an upset. Fosdyck wasn’t interested in a repeat though as he blasted Alles with a double leg takedown to his back to start the match and unsentimentally pinned him in the first period. Many observers feel, though, that Alles still has the best shot to be Fosdyck’s opponent in the state finals as well.
All the local wrestlers were looking forward to a week of practice unfettered by snow and several schools got together Monday to duke it out in preparation for the rest of the Old Dominion this weekend. W&L’s three finalists and three third place finishers, 103-pound freshman Christian Deel, 119-pound junior James Cox, and 215-pound junior Brandon Deatley may not know what to do with themselves if they actually get to consistently practice together this week.
“It could be turbo-charging for them, considering how good they looked after two weeks at home,” Wilkerson said. Then again, school was canceled on Tuesday so it could be more of the same this week. “At least we’re experienced with it. I told the boys to grab their snow shovels again and do what they did before, because it apparently works.”