Dowrey wins state title, finishes 52-0
Posted: February 18, 2013
SALEM — The Group AA Wrestling Championships were long over, and of the remaining people left most of them consisted of the Salem Civic Center maintenance crew packing up for the night, and media working on stories.
But there was also a pocket of people affiliated with Handley. Jordan Dowrey, who participated in the last match of the night, had made sure to talk and pose for pictures with seemingly everyone from the rather sizeable contingent that had come to see him wrestle, and they appeared to be waiting on Dowrey, who wasn’t in the arena at the time, to change before making the drive back to Winchester.
Or maybe not.
“We’re staying here tonight,” said Scott, meaning they were going to sleep in the Salem Civic Center.
Scott was joking of course. But then again, you couldn’t really blame Handley if it wasn’t anxious to leave the place that had just given it so much joy.
Dowrey defeated Salem’s James Willis 3-2 to win the 285-pound championship and cap a perfect 52-0 season Saturday night, and with the title Dowrey also gave Handley its first individual state wrestling title since R.C. Simmons won at 171 pounds in 1999, breaking the longest title drought among area teams.
“It’s a great feeling,” said Dowrey, a junior who placed fifth at 285 in his first state tournament appearance a year ago. “For myself, for my team, for my school, it’s big. I’m glad I could come out here and do it for them.
“[It took] working hard all season long. It’s the guys you have in the room that make you better, and [Handley 195-pounder] Skylar [Wotring] and [220-pounder] Tommy [Shea-Roop] helped me all year long. Erik [Bearer, James Wood’s 285-pounder], all the hard-fought matches we had, prepared me for [the Willis match]. If I hadn’t had those, who knows if I would have been able to fight [Willis] off at the end of that one.”
Dowrey was one of three area wrestlers to advance to the Group AA finals, but he was the only one to win. Sherando junior Jacob Guthridge lost to Christiansburg junior Coy Ozias, a two-time state champion coming in, 11-2 in the 120-pound final, and Millbrook sophomore Dylan Wisman recorded his second straight second-place finish after losing 7-3 to Staunton River senior Chris Tyree, a two-time state runner-up, 7-3 in the 160-pound final.
In the team standings, Christiansburg, led by its four individual champions, won its 12th consecutive state title, scoring 158 points to runner-up Brookville’s 92. Sherando (four state placers) was 15th with 40 points, Millbrook (two) was 20th with 32 points, Handley (one) was 25th with 26 points, and James Wood (two) tied for 33rd with 18 points. Out of 11 state qualifiers from the four local schools, nine placed.
As Dowrey and Scott frequently point out, scoring the first two points in typically low-scoring heavyweight matches are always key, and in what always seems to be the case, Dowrey did that in both his matches Saturday.
After winning a hard-fought 2-0 semifinal over Park View’s Ronald Cruz on the strength of a second-period reversal, Dowrey needed just under a minute to get the same advantage with a takedown of Willis in the final.
Willis managed an escape to send the match to 2-1 heading into the second, Dowrey managed an escape to go up 3-1 heading into the third, and Willis (26-4) picked up one 48 seconds into the third to make it 3-2.
With both on their feet, Willis — the rare heavyweight who’s lighter than Dowrey, who goes around 260 pounds — threw everything he could at Dowrey while being urged on by a vocal Salem contingent. In the final 10 seconds he forced Dowrey to go down to the mat with him in order for Dowrey to deny the takedown.
But after successfully wrapping him up, the final whistle blew, and Dowrey leapt up and immediately started pumping his arms.
“That was tough there at the end, because he’s good, and his hips are solid,” Dowrey said. “I was just fighting hard there at the end and never gave up.”
Willis also appeared to be breathing heavier than Dowrey as the match wound down, too, perhaps hampering his late takedown attempts.
Scott said he usually has Dowrey defer to the third period when he gets the choice to start the second, but he thought by having Dowrey take down to start the second that would help wear Willis down based on what Scott saw from Willis earlier in the tournament.
“I don’t know if it’s conditioning, but it’s styles too,” Scott said. “[Willis] is an in-and-out kind of wrestler. “It’s interesting in that Jordan is usually the heavyweight that’s a little bit quicker, and that time [Willis] was a little bit quicker, so it was a role reversal. You get tired when you’re working like that a lot. But credit to him, he worked real hard the entire match, and he had enough to make it interesting at the end, too.”
Just not enough to win. And with the win, Dowrey continues to play a major role in lifting Handley’s wrestling program.
During the regular season, the Judges took a major step by placing second to only Skyline in the Northwestern District regular season and tournament. And while Dowrey was the Judges’ only state qualifier, the fact that he’s showed his younger teammates what’s possible — and the fact he’ll be back to work with them next year — should only raise the team’s work ethic and expectations.
For individual and team reasons, Scott couldn’t be happier.
“Obviously, it’s great for him,” Scott said. “He set a goal at the beginning of the year to do this, and he accomplished it. That’s what it’s all about.
“I’m extremely happy for him. It’s a big step for him and the program, for sure.”
Sherando also showed its program is also on the rise. Led by Guthridge (41-5), the Warriors had four wrestlers place for the first time since 2010, and four of their five state qualifiers will return next season. Senior Dan Mullaney (33-9) took sixth at 160 pounds and won his 100th career match in the consolation quarterfinals; junior Tyler Hamilton (36-12) placed seventh at 195; and junior Kyle Vangel (38-10) placed eighth at 138.
Guthridge could not manage Sherando’s first state title since 2010, as the talented Ozias (fifth at the Beast of the East this year in Newark, Del.) was just too much. Ozias led 4-1 after one period and 9-2 after two.
“He’s a grinder, ties up the head, and really bangs hard,” said Guthridge, who won his semifinal 7-2 over Chancellor‘s Joe Cafiero. “I knew he was going to hit the high-crotch pretty much, and then dump it.
“It’s a tough loss, but it’s all right. I’m a junior, I’m coming back, and I’m improving every day. Next year I‘ll probably move up a few weight classes and be back at it again.”
Guthridge was relatively inexperienced when he took fourth at 113 pounds last year, and Sherando coach Pepper Martin was impressed by how that experience drove him to this year’s success. Martin said he fully expects this year’s successful run to drive Guthridge even harder.
“We’re really proud of what he’s accomplished and how far he’s come,” Martin said. “His goal from the end of last year coming into this year was to make the state finals and win a championship, and he fell a little short. But I have no doubt he’ll be back in that situation again next year, and it’s gonna be a different result.”
Martin also gave a lot of credit to his wrestlers, particularly Mullaney.
Though it hasn’t been officially diagnosed, Martin said he believes Mullaney’s been wrestling with a hernia for several weeks. The reason why Mullaney doesn’t have an official diagnosis is because he did not want to risk a doctor telling him that he shouldn’t wrestle anymore.
“His goals were to make the state tournament and place, and get to 100 career wins, and he did both of those,” Martin said. “I’m really proud of him, because he gutted it out.”
Martin also gave credit to Hamilton — who was clearly hurting badly in the third period because of a shoulder injury in his seventh-place match, but he held on to win 6-2 — and Vangel, who went 20-18 last year, for all the effort they put into this season.
“We have a strong foundation to build on for next year,” Martin said.
Millbrook dropped out of the state’s top 10 for the first time since 2005, but in addition to Wisman (28-5) the Pioneers also had Mike Keeler (19-7) place fourth at 170 pounds.
In Wisman’s final, it looked like he was in the process of taking Tyree down a minute into the match, but as Wisman came down on the mat with his arms around Tyree he lost his grip, and Tyree rolled on top of him for a takedown to make it 2-0.
Up 2-1 in the second, Tyree managed a takedown in a similar situation with 23 seconds left to go up 4-1. A Wisman takedown with 24 seconds left in the third made it 5-3, but Wisman’s last-gasp attempt to get tying points in the final seconds wound up resulting in two for Tyree to make the final 7-3.
“[Wisman] had that first takedown, and then [Tyree] kind of bumped a little bit, he pulled him, and then he kind of hopped over him,” Millbrook coach Jeff Holmes said. “That’s a four-point swing right there, and wrestling is kind of about acquiring momentum. It can be difficult to start coming back from behind, especially in a state finals match.”
The good news for Wisman — who took second at 138 pounds last year — is that he’s still got two more chances. A year ago, he was the only freshman finalist in Group AA or A over 113 pounds, and this year he was the only Group AA sophomore or freshman finalist above 113 pounds. And he did that despite missing more than a month and a half with mononucleosis.
“I’m proud of him,” said Holmes of Wisman, who won his semifinal 7-2 over Loudoun County’s Hunter Day. “He’s disappointed, and obviously that makes me disappointed for him. Obviously, it’s every kid’s dream to win that state title, and to make it the finals and lose — I know personally how that feels. It’s hard to take. The good thing is that he’s talented, he’s young, and he’s got time to work and achieve that.”
Like Wisman, Keeler also missed a large chunk of time this season, missing a month because he broke two metacarpals in his hand, which had to be heavily bandaged for the rest of the season.
Keeler won four straight matches after losing his first round match before losing his consolation final to settle for fourth. He made the consolation finals as a result of a reversal with 20 seconds left to give him a 4-3 win in the consolation semis.
“I feel if [my hand wasn’t injured] there’s a lot more stuff I can do in matches, but you’ve got to deal with the cards that you’re dealt, and that’s pretty much what I did,” Keeler said. “One little setback wasn’t going to stop me from accomplishing my goals the rest of the season.
“[That reversal in the consolation semis] was probably one of the best moments of my wrestling career, to be honest. I just stayed mentally tough through the match and came out on top.”
Holmes said he was “very proud” of what Keeler did throughout the season and the tournament. He was always around the team even when he was out, doing as much conditioning as he could, and he pushed through some initial frustration after he came back to become a district champion and regional finalist prior to the state tournament.
James Wood had the senior Bearer (36-9) place fifth and sophomore Jimmy Woznak (39-9) place sixth after Woznak lost his semifinal match 5-3 to Dominion’s Brandon Thien.
“Jimmy wrestled well and I’m proud of what he did,” James Wood coach Greg Walker said. “He wrestled hard and he wrestled smart, but unfortunately he came up on the short end. I know Jimmy, and he’ll be in the room in the offseason going hard, and we’ll see what he can do next year.
“Erik was great. He’s been wrestling for 14 weeks [in his career], and he took fifth in the state. You can’t beat that. He improved all year long, and I’m proud of what he did.”
— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at email@example.com
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