Posted February 24, 2013 | comments Leave a comment

Williams to represent state: Skyline senior will participate in Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic

Skyline senior Justin Williams works from the bottom against Waynesboro's Oliver McKenzie during the 220-pound championship match at the Group AA state wrestling tournament on Saturday at Salem Civic Center. Brad Fauber/Daily

By Brad Fauber

The honors just keep coming for Skyline wrestler Justin Williams.

The senior became the first wrestler in school history to win a state title when he claimed the 220-pound championship at the Group AA state wrestling tournament on Feb. 16 in Salem.

The state title capped a tremendous run through the postseason for Williams, who pinned every opponent he faced in the district, regional and state tournaments.

Just five days after his state championship victory, Williams found out he was chosen to represent the state as a member of Team Virginia in the Dapper Dan Wrestling Classic held in Pittsburgh, Pa., on March 17.

The opportunity to compete in the event, which is an all-star match often referred to as the "Rose Bowl" of wrestling, is a special opportunity for Williams, who will get to compete with and against some of the best high school wrestlers on the East Coast.

"It's a great feeling," Williams said recently in a phone interview. "It's pretty cool that they chose me to represent Virginia."

The Dapper Dan Classic began in 1975 and consists of two duals.

The first dual typically features a team representing the Western Pennsylvania Interscholastic Athletic League competing against a team of all-stars from a particular state. The second dual - the "main event" - features the USA all-star team and the best wrestlers from the state of Pennsylvania in a head-to-head match.

The state chosen for the event's opening match varies from year to year, and this season marks the third time that Virginia will compete in the classic. Team Virginia competed in the classic in 1986 and 2003. Virginia lost close matches to the WPIAL all-stars in each of its first two trips to the Dapper Dan Classic.

The final roster for Team Virginia has yet to be officially released, but Skyline coach Matt Keel got an early peak at the star-packed lineup and said that the roster was "crazy."

Keel played an instrumental part in making sure that Williams had at cracking the Team Virginia roster.

"There is a committee, and I kind of reached out," Keel said. "I know some of the people involved, so I made sure he got some consideration."

Williams is no stranger to participating in prestigious wrestling tournaments during high school wrestling's offseason, and Williams was a member of Team Virginia last season when the team competed at a tournament in Indiana.
"[The Dapper Dan Classic] is not so much the largest event I've wrestled in, but it will be one of the most competitive," Williams said. "I'm expecting good wrestlers, for one, and then after that, great fans who really understand wrestling.

"I'm just going to go out and do my best and hopefully come up with a win, help my team out."

Williams also plans to participate in a Middle Atlantic Wrestling Association tournament and the Flonational tournament, both of which are also coming up soon.

But probably the biggest highlight for Williams will be his participation in the Dapper Dan Classic in what will serve as the culmination of a season full of accomplishments for the senior.

"I'm really proud of him," Keel said. "These are his victories and it's great for him to get to experience all of this. It's also good for the younger guys on [Skyline's wrestling] team - it's something they can look up to.

"I'm proud to be a part of his career."

Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or bfauber@nvdaily.com

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