By Brian Eller - firstname.lastname@example.org
STRASBURG -- Bobby Rager and Daniel Reynolds are always trying to make each other better. Every day at practice, the 119- and 125-pound Strasburg wrestlers are pushing each other, hoping to help each other improve with their skill sets.
On the mat it's clear whatever the duo is doing is working, as Rager and Reynolds each captured county championships in their respective weight classes as the Rams earned a 3-0 victory in the Shenandoah County Wrestling Championships on Tuesday.
Strasburg defeated Massanutten Military Academy 75-6, then beat rivals Central 43-28 and Stonewall Jackson 45-34. Central picked up two wins on the night, defeating Stonewall Jackson 42-36 and finishing with a 72-12 win over the Colonels. Stonewall Jackson went 1-2 for the tournament, falling to both Central and Strasburg but taking a 66-18 win against Massanutten , which finished 0-3 for the meet.
"Bobby's impressive," teammate Colin Barnes said. "He's always working hard, trying to improve himself. In the wrestling room him and [Reynolds] are always trying to push each other to make them better and to really take that next step."
As of last week, Rager and Reynolds boasted a combined record of 54-5, part of a Strasburg team that has lost just twice this season. Its most recent loss, however, came in a match against Clarke County, a performance the Rams seemed determined to put behind them. The Rams opened up against Massanutten, and quickly proved to be no match for the Colonels. Strasburg won all but one match, with Massanutten's lone victory coming as a result of a forfeit in the 285-pound class. Rager kicked off the match for the Rams, pinning his opponent less than 30 seconds into the first period. Reynolds followed his teammate's performance with a pin of his own, setting the tone for the host team.
Meanwhile, as Strasburg got a handle on Massanutten on one mat, arguably the most thrilling matchup took place between Stonewall Jackson and Central. After the Falcons jumped out to an 18-0 lead, thanks to pins from Kaleb Orndorff, Jackson Snarr and Kyle Kelican, Stonewall began to climb back, winning seven of the next nine matches to take a 36-30 lead with just two wrestlers remaining. Like a scene from a movie, Central's John Scaggs picked up a pin at the 103-pound class, tying the score at 36 with one class remaining. The matchup was Joe Livesay and Skylar Wolf, with the winner clinching the match for their respective school. After some opening back and forth moves, Wolf was able to gain the advantage late in the first period. He picked up the pin with 23 seconds left, giving the Falcons six more points and the 42-36 win.
"He pretty much sealed the deal for us," Central coach Scott Fletcher said. "We needed that pin and he got it for us. As a freshman, he's pretty impressive. He does a good job. He's still got a lot to learn, but he's doing an excellent job."
With Central picking up the close victory over Stonewall Jackson, the Generals took their frustrations out on Massanutten, while Strasburg and Central battled to see which team would remain unbeaten in the tournament. Similar to what the Rams did, Stonewall Jackson jumped out to a 48-18 lead over the Colonels, as 215-pounder John Quinlan earned one of his three wins on the night, helping the Generals avenge their opening loss to the Falcons with a 66-18 win over Massanutten.
The final matches pitted Central against Massanutten and Stonewall against Strasburg. The Falcons picked up six pins to start their match, giving them a 36-0 cushion en route to a 72-12 victory. Meanwhile, the match between the Generals and Rams went back and forth. Strasburg's Seth Williams picked up a three-point win for the Rams at the 152-pound class, putting the host team ahead 21-6. But three straight pins from the Generals helped Stonewall take a 24-21 lead. After taking turns with the lead, Rager's pin with 1:04 left in the second period helped seal the win for the Rams, putting them at 3-0 for the tournament and giving them the Shenandoah County Wrestling Championship title.
"We're real young at the bottom," Stonewall coach Jerry Franklin said. "Their kids are more experienced. They've been in the wrestling room a lot more. [I thought we wrestled] not as good as what we expected, but they did fine."