By Dennis Atwood - email@example.com
WINCHESTER -- Warren County's wrestling team benefited from a deep roster and seniors who exhibited leadership to achieve the only 5-0 team record and take first place in the 12-team Handley Duals tournament on Saturday.
Conversely, Strasburg continued to be burdened with roster vacancies in four weight-classes, giving away 24 points per match, but achieved 40 wins in their 50 contested bouts to finish 3-2 and take fifth place overall.
Warren County's wins were over Group AAA C.D. Hylton (53-21), Jefferson (W.Va.) (42-40), Tuscarora (63-9), Handley (48-15), and Woodgrove (54-28).
The Wildcats' roster depth was a crucial asset in adjusting to the loss of two starters.
Warren County's 126 weight-class starter, Tyler Shanholtz, was out due to illness, and 160 starter Josh Newman was injured during his first round 1:55 pin against C.D. Hylton.
After the meet, Wildcats coach Matt Wadas reported that Newman was fine and should be back in a couple of days.
Levi Lambert moved up from 120 to take Shanholtz's place, and went 5-0 with two pins, two decisions, and a forfeit.
Continuing the Wildcats' adjustments, Terrace Thompson bumped up from 113 to take the 120 slot, and finished 5-0 on the day, with a pin, a technical fall, a major decision, a decision, and an injury default, missing only a forfeit among the possible ways to score.
Jacob Schneider moved up from his normal 152 class, to fill in for Newman at 160, and earned pins against Handley's Keving Cooksey, in 42 seconds, and Woodgrove's Brandon Branch, in 1:31.
C.D. Hylton also gave Warren County's Zach Pohler his first loss of the season, after going 17-0 to start the season. Hylton's Nathan Tabourn decisioned Pohler, 10-5, in the 220 class.
Pohler, a senior, completely shook off the adversity, with first period pins against all four of his remaining opponents, to bring his record to 21-1.
"[Tabourn] was a little bit stronger than I thought, and I tried throwing in legs, which wasn't the best idea," Poehler said. "Then he got me on my back and I had to fight on my back the last two minutes of the third period, and that pretty much sealed it. I couldn't come back after that.
"I'm happy I got the loss out the way. I think it pushed me to get more wins and finish out the day on a good note."
Another Warren County senior, Jeffrey Budwash, was in top form, pinning all five of his opponents, four of them in the first period, to improve to 27-1 for the season.
"I haven't seen any of [today's] opponents before," Budwash said. "Around now, it's just our time to peak, with districts in two weeks. You can still get higher [in performance]. There's never enough [improvement]."
"[Roster depth] was huge for us," Wadas said. "When we split into two schools, us and Skyline [in 2007], we didn't have a lot of depth those first couple of years. This year, we seemed to gain some of it. We lost two starters today and I was nervous about getting into the finals and the boys rallied and stepped up.
"At 170 and up they're all seniors, and that experience on the mat really showed through."
Strasburg, the only Group A team in the meet, continued its season-long pattern of forfeiting the 160, 170, 195, and 220 weight classes due to roster vacancies, yet were down only a combined 11 points in their two losses -- 39-35 to Handley, and 39-32 to Kettle Run in their final match of the day.
The Rams victories came against two Group AAA schools -- Woodbridge (36-34), and C.D. Hylton (51-30) -- and 48-18 over John Champe, a new AA school.
Strasburg got 5-0 performances from Hunter Dean (113 class, 39-1 for the year), Nic Campbell (120, 23-0), Kent Cadle (25-1), and Tyler Drummond (152, 36-4).
Cadle followed-up his 5-0 performance in Wednesday's quad meet hosted by Strasburg, with a bandaged thumb he jammed in practice against Nic Campbell the day before.
Cadle pinned his first four opponents, then won an 8-1 decision over Kettle Run's Collin Kratzer.
"The thumb's been bleeding a little bit," Cadle said. "I decided not to wrap it because, on Wednesday, it seemed like everybody was targeting it. So I didn't want anybody targeting it today.
"[Kratzer] was being real defensive. He didn't really let me work many moves, and once, toward the end, I started to turn him. I feel like if I got a little more time, I would have pinned him."
"I thought our performance was good," Rams coach Trey Kirkland said. "We didn't get bonus points when we needed them. There were a couple of chances where we could have gone for a major [decision], or got a pin, but didn't get it. That was the only reason for a little concern. If we had one more guy, or one match went the other way, we would have won those."
Jordan Dowrey, Handley's 285, earned his 100th career win, with a 17-second pin of Warren County's Joe Laravie. Dowrey went on to get win number 101, with a pin of Woodgrove's Dylan O'Connor.
Controversy swirled around host Handley's final match loss, 31-30, to Woodgrove.
The Wolverines' one-point margin of victory was gained in the next-to-last bout against the Judges, at 195 when Skyler Wotring attempted to talk with the referee after being pinned by Tyler Cole.
Wotring was assessed a one-point unsportsmanlike penalty, on top of the six points for the pin to put the Judges behind 31-24.
Dowrey's subsequent pin of Dylan O'Connor made it 31-30, left Handley with a 3-2 record for fourth place, and made Woodgrove 4-0 after four rounds.
"[Wotring] was definitely pinned, that's not the question," Handley coach David Scott said. "The question I have is the validity of taking a point away, when the kid just asked about being pinned.
"It wasn't like he was being disrespectful to the referee. [Wotring] said, 'I thought that was a quick pin,' and he stood up, and the referee took a point away. He didn't even say it loud enough for me to hear it in the corner. I had to ask the referee what [Wotring] said."