By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
WINCHESTER -- The Sherando Warriors had only 10 wrestlers available for the James Wood-hosted Willie Walters/Jaye Copp Holiday Invitational tournament, but came through with two champions - Jacob Guthridge (120) and Kyle Vangel (138) on Friday.
Sherando finished in ninth place, with 88 points, among the 18 schools competing in the event, and forfeited the 170, 182, 220, and 285 weight-classes throughout the event, due to injuries and illness.
The Warriors' Mike Duffy lost his 106 semi-final match to Eastern View's Yarhoski Aldiva in a 3:29 pin, and Tyler Hamilton was pinned by Freedom's Brendan Kammerdeiner at 3:38 in the 195 semifinal.
The tournament was originally scheduled for two days, but a winter weather advisory, calling for two-to-four inches of snow from the pre-dawn hours until the afternoon on Saturday, resulted in the event being compressed to one day, concluding at 10 p.m. Friday night.
Eastern View earned the team championship with a dominant 210.5 points, followed by Stafford (148), while Handley came in third (141).
Musselman took fourth (137.5), Potomac Falls fifth (130), Freedom sixth (116.5), and host James Wood finished seventh (101).
Musselman's Kody Kernan, the 132 champion, was named the tournament's outstanding wrestler.
Guthridge, a junior, who took fourth in the 113 weight-class at states last year, literally waited until the last second to punch his ticket to the finals.
Trailing Musselman's Bradley Derito, 3-2, in the semifinals, with three seconds remaining in the third period, Guthridge initiated a successful take-down move, and the referee held up two fingers with one second on the clock, giving Guthridge a 4-3 victory.
"Based on [today's] seeding, the semifinal probably pitted the best two  wrestlers against one another," Warriors head coach Pepper Martin said. "[Guthridge] had a tough, physical match, and hit the throw with three seconds left to pull that out in a dramatic fashion.
"He'll be the first admit that, in the finals, he got a little sloppy at times and it cost him a couple of points. He has a great desire to be successful and be a champion. He did what he had to do to pull away at the end and win comfortably."
Guthridge (16-3) drew a bye and pinned Bret Shurina (Eastern View) at 1:44 in the preliminary rounds, and faced Brian Belcher (18-4) of Stonewall Jackson-Manassas in the championships.
Guthridge gained the first two points, and the score was 4-4 at the end of the second period.
In the third period, Guthridge again picked up the first two points and stayed in control to take a 9-4 decision.
"I start out slow, sometimes," Guthridge said. "I'm a third-period wrestler.I just take the talents and abilities God gave me and use my desire and determination to work as hard as I can.
"I was undefeated until last week at [the Athens Drive Tournament ] in North Carolina, and I lost three matches to some tough opponents. I saw what I need to work on. I'm gonna work on it, and bring it back for states."
"Jacob [Guthridge] is one of our top wrestlers and one of our team leaders," Martin said. "A lot is expected of him this season, and we wanted to up our schedule a little bit and make it a little bit tougher to help prepare him for what lies ahead in the postseason, and for our others wrestlers, just to get a little bit better every week."
In the preliminary rounds, Vangel pinned Curtis Keck (Martinsburg) in 1:16, and took a 6-2 decision over Nick Polzin (Stafford).
In the semifinals, Vangel took a mere 1:38 to pin Zac Gingras (Loudoun Valley) and met Eastern View's Tony Pritt in the finals.
Pritt had to work hard until the end in his semifinal match, scoring a takedown with 20 seconds remaining for a tight, 11-10, decision over Freedom's Garret Moody.
In the championship bout, Vangel took a 2-0 lead, and led 7-1 at the end of the first period. He built his advantage to 10-1 early in the second period, and pinned Pritt at 3:44 to finish the day 4-0, and improve to 17-4 on the year.
"I like to get the first takedown," Vangel said. "I did a lat-drop, and got the big move throw to set up the pin.
"I feel I ended a lot stronger than I did last week [in North Carolina], and it felt pretty good. We didn't practice a whole lot [for today] and the people down there were just a whole lot better than [opponents] here in Virginia."
"Kyle [Vangel] is one of those wrestlers that has really stepped it up and improved the last couple of weeks," Martin said. "He's more confident on his feet on takedowns that he knows he can get and finish, and that was the key to his success today.
"Last year [Vangel] had a taste of varsity experience and had a little over a .500 record. This year he's just stepped his performance up a couple of notches."
Sherando finished 26th of 31 teams in last year's state Group AA meet. Sherando has a deep roster of 38 wrestlers, but features a lot of youth, with 18 freshman and only five seniors.
"We have a lot of freshmen in the lineup this year," Martin said. "They have a lot of potential, but in most other years they would probably be back-ups. But, because of necessity, they're thrust in the lineup. Some of them are growing up fast, and some are seeing their successes in small measures."
The tournament is named in honor of for two former James Wood wrestling coaches.
Willie Walters coached from 1964-83, with a career record of 187-41-3, and passed away on April 27, 1983.
Jaye Copp wrestled under coach Walters, and had a career record of 302-121-2 as head coach, 1984-2002. Coach Copp is still very active in the Colonels' wrestling program.