Judges take 2nd at district wrestling meet
Posted: January 31, 2013
STEPHENS CITY — The competition for the best wrestling team in the Northwestern District might have been wide open at the beginning of the year, but Skyline showed once again Wednesday that it’s pretty good at slamming the door shut on its foes.
After an unbeaten district regular season, the Hawks claimed their first-ever Northwestern District Wrestling Tournament with 183 points, 18 more than runner-up Handley.
Skyline had the most placers (14), the most wins (25), the most pin falls (14) and tied for the most individual champions (four) to score 183 points, 18 more than runner-up Handley.
The four wrestlers in weight classes 106-145 and the top three in weight classes 152-285 advance to the Region II Tournament at John Champe High School Feb. 11-12. Skyline, Handley (three champions) and third-place Sherando (150.5, four champs) will each send 11 wrestlers, and fourth-place Millbrook (121.5 points, two champs) and fifth-place James Wood (93.5 points, one) will each send eight.
Skyline coach Matt Keel said it was truly a team effort Wednesday, and he gave credit to his finalists for finishing off the hard work everyone had put in. Three of the Hawks’ four victories in the finals came by fall — Josiah Huston at 145, Dustin Santmyers at 152, and Justin Williams at 220. Noah Goss won 1-0 at 126.
“It was within eight points going into the finals,” Keel said. “Everybody did their job. They knew we had to get bonus points. We couldn’t just win. That’s what you need.
“It’s a team effort. We had 14 guys, and every one of them scored points.”
While a championship was Handley’s goal, the Judges — the regular season runner-ups — once again bested their Frederick County rivals, so Handley couldn’t be too disappointed with its performance.
The Judges had three champions — Lio Quezada (a 6-2 finals winner at 113 pounds), Coby Pitcock (a 4-0 winner at 182) and Jordan Dowrey (a 3-1 winner in yet another grueling battle with James Wood’s Erik Bearer at 285) — after having just one in each of the last three years.
“I was pleased,” Handley coach David Scott said. “We want district champions and state qualifiers, and we’ve got 11 ready to do that.”
Dowrey — who improved to 44-0 in claiming his second district title — said it was great to see the Judges continue the success they’ve had, especially because they lost senior 132-pounder Sean Bridgeforth a few weeks ago because of injury.
“This is a huge step forward, and hopefully we can keep carrying it through to next year,” he said.
Individually, Dowrey kept his impressive season going by getting a critical first-period takedown of Bearer, whom he beat for the fourth time. Bearer managed an escape in the second, but in a rivalry in which points are hard to come by Bearer couldn’t get the points he needed.
“Getting an early takedown sets you up to wrestle your own pace, and you don’t feel like you have to chase to get the points,” Dowrey said. “In a match like that, when you know it’s going to be close, two points are huge. We haven’t scored two points between the two of us together before.”
Despite going 1-3 in the regular season, Sherando coach Pepper Martin said his team was taking aim at the title, and with four champions, the Warriors definitely put up a fight.
Jacob Guthridge won 8-1 in the 120-pound final, Colton Simmons won 5-1 in the 132 final, Kyle Vangel won 8-1 in the 138 final, and Tyler Hamilton won 3-0 in the 195 final. Hamilton’s district title was his second.
“We were hoping to get five champions, but four is pretty nice, and all four of our winners had control of the match in the finals,” Martin said. “Overall, our wrestlers wrestled their hearts out today. We pulled a couple of upsets, and had a couple near-upsets that could have changed things a little bit as far as the top three finishers.
“But during the season and tournaments depth was a problem for us. We improved a little on it, and most of our kids scored points, but once again the depth problem became an issue and we couldn’t keep up with Skyline and Handley.”
Millbrook had two wrestlers win. Mike Keeler won by forfeit at 170 in the final (James Wood’s Levi Roy had to be taken to a hospital prior to the final to inspect a spot on his arm that had grown unusually large, but James Wood coach Greg Walker said he’s expected to be fine) and sophomore Dylan Wisman earned a 6-3 decision at 160 pounds for his second district title.
Wisman established himself as one of the state’s best regardless of weight class last year, but a bout of mononucleosis had kept him out for over a month and a half until he returned two weeks ago.
“It was definitely too long to be off the mat,” Wisman said. “I definitely lost a lot of conditioning and I’m still working to get that back.
“But it’s good to get back on the mat. I definitely have a chance to do well, but I’ve got to take it one match at a time and not look ahead.”
James Wood sophomore Jimmy Woznak, a district champion last year, captured the 106 final with a 8-2 win.
Woznak was a rarity in that he’s healthy. In addition to Roy, James Wood has been without Taylor Swartz since the calendar turned to January because of a shoulder injury, and they had to scratch three wrestlers because of injuries.
“We had no chance,” Walker said. “You can’t bring 11 kids and expect to win. But I expected Jimmy to do well and he did, and Erik’s getting there. Logan [Bauserman, a finalist at 152] is starting to experience some success, and hopefully he’ll ride that confidence.”
See page C4 for team scores and individual results.
— Contact Robert Niedzwiecki at firstname.lastname@example.orgFollow on Twitter @WinStarSports1