Eastern View High of Culpeper qualified 13 wrestlers for the Region I tournament out of a Battlefield District considered significantly weaker than the Bay Rivers. So, when the Cyclones, a very good team to be sure, rode that manpower advantage to a first Region I tournament title on Saturday at King George, few were surprised.
But at least one Bay Rivers District coach, Poquoson's Eric Decker, believes New Kent, which finished second in the region after winning the past three titles, is better situated for a run in this week's Group AA state tournament. Eastern View won the regional with 184 points to New Kent's 154, with Poquoson third at 126.
"New Kent qualified nine wrestlers for the state tournament to our seven and Eastern View's seven," Decker said. "I think New Kent can finish in the top three at the state, maybe second.
"I think Eastern View's three extra wrestlers gave them a nearly 60-point advantage on us and New Kent in the regional."
New Kent led the Bay Rivers with three individual champions: Blake Hohman (126 pounds), Corey Todd (132) and B.C. Laprade (138). Todd won one of the most exciting matches of the night, beating Tabb's Hunter Starner with an escape in the sudden-death third overtime.
Another final involving Bay Rivers entrants was nearly as exciting. Grafton's Justin McRee, a state runner-up last year at 145 pounds, used a takedown in the final seconds to defeat York's Marcus Wakelyn 3-1.
Smithfield had two titlists en route to a fourth-place team finish. Nick Kennedy defeated Poquoson's Trent Graham 6-3 at 182 pounds, before the Packers' Chuck Sharon raised his record to 35-0 with a 5-1 win over Grandon Gallahan of Chancellor.
"I think Chuck Sharon has one of the best chances of any Bay Rivers District wrestler to win a state title," Packers coach Chris Wiatt said. The Group AA state meet is set for Friday and Saturday in Salem.
Other Bay Rivers regional champs were Poquoson's Kody Farrington (170), Jamestown's Devin Washington (220) and 285-pounder Jacob Rose of Tabb, which put five wrestlers in the finals. Decker was disappointed with Poquoson putting only two wrestlers in the final, but he thinks he knows why.
Decker had to leave King George shortly after the weigh-ins on Saturday to be with his wife, Diana, who gave birth Saturday to their first child, Braylon Wade, a 7-pound, 12-once boy. While overjoyed at the birth of his son, Decker felt his kids might have let down mentally in his absence.
"Yes, I develop their technique, but my biggest thing is getting in their heads," Decker said. "They need to be able to respond when I'm not there, and our assistants need to do a better job keeping them mentally ready."
Team scores: 1. Eastern View 184; 2. New Kent 154; 3. Poquoson 126; 4. Smithfield 112; 5. Tabb 106; 6. Chancellor 75 1/2; 7. York 67; 8. Culpeper 53; 9. Jamestown 52; 10. King George 39; 11. Courtland 38; 12. Grafton 37; 13. Spotsylvania 33; 14. Lafayette 27; 15. Southampton 16; 16. Caroline 11; 17. Bruton 4.
Championship finals: 106—Aldiva, Eastern View, d. Richard Harrell, Tabb, 11–8; 113—Bryan Ramey, Eastern View, p. Kyle Boyd, Tabb, 1:47; 120—Joe Cafiero, Chancellor, d. Bret Shurina, Eastern view, 4–2; 126—Blake Hohman, New Kent, d. Mark Weinstock, Chancellor, 9–0; 132—Corey Todd, New Kent, d. Hunter Starner, Tabb, 2–1; 138—BC Laprade, New Kent, d. Carter Page, Smithfield, 9–4; 145—Austin Jenkins, Eastern View, d. Baily Hicks, Tabb, 7–5; 152—Justin McRee, Grafton d. Marcus Wakelyn, York, 3–1; 160—Logan Shurina, Eastern view, d. Declan Kingston, York, 9–4; 170-Kody Farrington, Poquoson, d. Jacob Tucker, King George, 6–2; 182—Nick Kennedy, Smithfield, d. Trent Graham, Poquoson, 6–3; 195—Chuck Sharon, Smithfield, d. Brandon Gallahan, Chancellor, 5–1; 220—Devin Washington, Jamestown, d. Wilson Gregory, New Kent, 3–2; 285—Jacob Rose, Tabb, p. Wyatt Carroll, Culpeper, 2:53.
Consolation finals: 106—Hunter Wright, Poquoson, d. Jackson Gray, New Kent, tech. fall 16–1; 113—Bryson Mitchell, New Kent, d. Douglas Palacios, Courtland, 3–2; 120—Kalide Endale, Lafayette d. Trey Evans, Spotsylvania, forfeit; 126—Zack Burke, Smithfield, d. Derek Meyers, Tabb, 4–2; 132—Kyle Poultney, Poquoson, d. David Counts, Culpeper, 8–3; 138—Tony Pritt, Eastern View, p. Zach Henry, York, 1:45; Russ Porter, Poquoson, d. Bryson Howard King George, 8–0; 152—Brett Flora, New Kent, d. Ross Graham, Poquoson, 9–2; 160—Jordan Garlow, Smithfield, p. Alon Clipper, King George, 2:06; 170—Cody Vick, Culpeper, d. Devin Gouldine, New Kent, 8–3; 182-Tavis Langejans. Grafton, d. Donald Harris–Smith, Caroline, 5–2; 195—Sam Kitson, Jamestown, d. Reily Howell, Poquoson, 4–2; 220—Joe Tyson, Courtland.