Handley wrestling keeps it close, but Skyline pulls away for 40-26 victory
Posted: January 10, 2013
WINCHESTER — In finishing ahead of James Wood and Sherando in two tournaments and finishing ahead of Millbrook in one tournament and beating them in a dual match, the Handley wrestling team has established itself as the top Winchester-Frederick County team thus far.
But on Wednesday night, Skyline proved to the Judges why it was generating the most buzz among Northwestern District coaches in the preseason.
In Skyline’s first Northwestern District match of the year, the Hawks defeated Handley 40-26 at Maddex-Omps Gymnasium.
Skyline 220-pounder Justin Williams — who recorded one of his team’s four pins in the actual match before losing in an unusual exhibition to Handley heavyweight Jordan Dowrey — said the Hawks knew that Wednesday was a chance to show they were the team to beat in the district.
“We’ve been working hard in the room, and it paid off,” Williams said. “When you wrestle tough competition, you’re going to be better when district dual matches come around.”
Skyline improved to 12-1 overall, while the Judges dropped to 17-6, 1-1.
Handley gave the Hawks a strong run. The match started at 160 pounds, and after eight matches the Judges led 23-22 after Lio Quezada’s 17-0 technical fall at 113 pounds.
But the Hawks won five of the remaining six matches to take control, as Skyline coach Matt Keel made two lineup decisions that wound up making a huge difference.
Will Spencer didn’t even think he was going to be wrestling Wednesday and had to be called at home to come to school to get on the bus for Handley, and he wound earning a 14-8 win at 126 pounds to make it 28-23 Hawks.
Keel put Spencer in because he wanted his normal 126-pounder, Noah Goss, to move up to 132 pounds. And he got a big 4-0 win against one of Handley’s best wrestlers in Sean Bridgeforth, who was 12-3 heading into last weekend, to give Skyline a 31-23 lead that turned out to be too much for the Judges to overcome.
“The way I looked at it was that I needed a six-point lead at 126 to leave Noah there,” said Keel, who only had the two-point lead at 25-23. “It was a risk, because Will’s a backup, a JV guy. That was a big move for us.
“I wanted to win the dual meet. Noah knows that. Noah know it’s not about Noah, it’s about the team, and I’ve just got to build a lineup that helps us the best. And the guys this year are really good about that team effort [and understanding they can be moved or bumped out of the lineup].”
Handley coach David Scott said there were a lot of matches that the Judges could point to as reason for defeat.
Bridgeforth’s match was a tough one because it was still 2-0 until the closing seconds. And as impressive as Spencer was for Skyline at 126 in building up a 14-3 lead, Handley’s Garrett Patnode was able to execute a five-point move with 20 seconds and had Spencer on the verge of a pin when the buzzer sounded.
Scott also pointed to pins at 160 and 195 [the Judges’ Skylar Wotring was wrestling with a pulled hamstring there] and a major decision at 106 as matches in which he thought the Hawks got more points than he thought they would.
But overall, he thought Handley had a decent effort.
“I thought our guys wrestled tough,” Scott said. “This is one of the top teams in the region, so for us to hang in there and wrestle well is good for the guys. I’m happy. They all wrestled tough and none of them backed down. I can’t complain.
“[Skyline’s] going to be a good tournament team. They’ve got some guys in there who are going to score a lot of points and kids who can be champions, and they’re a good dual team. Since we’ve beaten all the other teams [in the district] this was the one that was going to kind of decide who at the top, and that’s what I was preaching to the kids. They were just a little bit better than us today.”
Handley heavyweight Jordan Dowrey said he was impressed with how his teammates fought, and he thinks Wednesday’s match should only help them as they try to improve.
Dowrey improved to 30-0 with his 25th pin when he won in 37 seconds in his match against the Hawks Chris Grady at 285, but that wasn’t the end of his night.
Skyline asked if Williams — who weighs 210 pounds — could wrestle the 258-pound Dowrey in an exhibition match at the end of the team competition. Dowrey earned a 9-5 decision in a battle of two wrestlers who had just one loss between them coming in.
“He’s a good wrestler,” Dowrey said. “He’s ranked first in the state at 220, and he was good. I need those matches to make me better. It’s good for both of us to have a good hard-fought match.
“It definitely helped to have the size and strength on him, and getting the first takedown helped a lot.”
Others who won for the Judges were Coby Pitcock at 170 (fall in 46 seconds), Killian McPartland at 182 (fall in 3:56) and Anthony Andriola at 138 (3-0 decision).
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