By Dennis Atwood
STRASBURG - Strasburg's wrestling team earned five championships, qualified a total of eight team members for the state Group A tournament, and captured the first place team trophy in Saturday's conclusion of the Region B tournament.
Host Strasburg's 190 team points provided plenty of separation over perennial rival Manassas Park's 167-point second-place finish.
It was Strasburg's first regional team championship since 2009 and broke Manassas Park's string of 2011-12 district, region, and state, and 2012-13 duals and district wins over Strasburg.
Central took two second-place medals, and picked-up a fourth-place finish to qualify three for states, and took fifth-place with 105 points among the 20 competing schools.
Stonewall Jackson will send one third-place, and two fourth-place wrestlers to states, and tied William Monroe at 96.5 points for sixth-place in team scoring.
The 145-pound weight-class featured the only championship bout between Shenandoah County rivals, as Central's Skylar Wolf took on Strasburg's Todd Dean, both seniors, for the third time since the Strasburg Duals on Jan. 12.
Todd Dean won the first two encounters, with a 10-4 decision in the duals and a 9-7 decision in last Saturday's Bull Run District tournament championship match-up.
Their regional battle was one of the most active and hardest fought in the championship round. Dean and Wolf were nearly continuously engaged in moves and counter-moves, and there were several rapid exchanges of over and under positions.
It was tied, 3-3, at the end of the first period. Todd Dean (23-2) scored a reverse at 1:41 in the second period to go up, 5-3, and it stayed that way until Wolf (33-7) earned an escape point with 20 seconds remaining in the match, as Dean prevailed, 5-4.
"[Wolf] come on strong and aggressive," Todd Dean said. "He wanted revenge. But I came out and gave him all I had. And things played out for me. He's got a pretty good two-on-one on the wrists. So long as I can clear that, I'm pretty much free."
"It was definitely a hard match," Wolf said. "I just tried to work hard and he beat me by a point. That's just the way it goes, I guess.
"We were going around a lot. My goal was just to keep try to keep moving on bottom, and I think I did that for the most part. [Dean's] just got the strength to hold you down and be able stop those switches."
A long-term medical problem required Strasburg senior Willy Rutz to sit out his junior year and delayed his start in competition this season until the Strasburg Duals.
But that's been no hindrance to Rutz (10-1), who won the 182-pound championship with a 9-2 decision over Bull Run District tournament champion David Smoot (38-5), of Rappahannock County.
"[Smoot] beat me [in the quarterfinals] at districts, so I knew what he was going to do," Rutz said. "Over the week, I talked with coach [Trey Kirkland] and we got plan set up and I just went out an executed the plan. [Last autumn] I was lifting, worked out every day, did a lot of running. I was constantly working out -- never missed a beat.
"Two years ago I had cancer. I was a rare type with no treatment for it, so they had to amputate half of my [right, big] toe. I had to bounce back from that. I can't be more excited, winning the regional and going to states for the first time."
Additional Strasburg championships were won at 106 by Hunter Dean (47-1), with a 1:16 pin of Patrick Gahman (William Monroe), at 120 by Nic Campbell (31-0), by a 3-2 decision over Gilbert Rodriguez (Manassas Park), and at 132 with Nick Cadle's (35-1) 3-2 decision over Fabian Rodriguez (Manassas Park).
At 138, Strasburg's Marco Gallagher lost the championship bout to Chatham's Marcus Clement, when Clement continued a Gallagher reverse attempt into a reverse of his own, leading to a pin a 4:46.
At 152, the Rams' Tyler Drummond finished as runner-up to Rappahannock County's Dylan Hitt, when Hitt was awarded an iffy reverse at the edge of the ring with five seconds left in the match for a 7-5 decision.
Lance Ford won the third place medal at 113 to complete the Rams state meet qualifiers.
Lilke Strasburg's Rutz, Central junior Brandon Phillips also entered competition late in season, having to deal with time and weight matters.
Phillips played both-ways as a lineman on the Falcons football squad, which advanced to the third round in the postseason, causing him to miss the first week of wrestling practice.
Then there was the matter of Phillips finishing the football season weighing 260 pounds, with a goal of wrestling at 220.
Phillips weighed in at 217 for the regional and progressed through a bye, a pin, and a decision to face a re-match with district foe Corey Jenkins (28-1), of Manassas Park in the 220 championship bout.
No points were scored in the first period. Jenkins executed a reverse halfway into the second period, followed by a Phillips escape, to make it 2-1.
Jenkins scored a take-down with 7.3 seconds remaining in the match, for a 4-1 win to repeat the three-point edge in his district tournament win over Phillips (17-4).
"I let [Jenkins] come to me, or he'd throw me, because he's a lot bigger," Phillips said. "I just had to game plan for him.
"It took me until January to reach 220, by just eating healthy and exercising."
Jacob Ingham (195, fourth) will round out the Falcons' contingent at the state meet.
Stonewall Jackson will send Ryan Pugh (170, third), Mathias McCabe (160, fourth) and Patrick Kerlin (182, fourth) to next weekend's Group A state tournament at Salem.
Clarke County junior Ben Wallace (43-2), won the 170 championship with his fourth pin of the meet, and was chosen outstanding wrestler of the tournament.
"[Our team] is pretty pumped up, especially since losing to [Manassas Park] last week," Rams coach Trey Kirkland said. "Last year, they the beat us at district, region, and state. This year, they beat us in two dual matches and the district. So, to finally get them, it felt good.
"I think we can [finish first at states]. If our eight guys wrestle the way they can, I don't see any team beating us. I feel every guy we take can get on the [awards] podium."