By Jim Laise- firstname.lastname@example.org
FRONT ROYAL -- The partisan crowd at the Skyline High gymnasium got exactly what it bargained for Saturday night as the home team Hawks nudged cross-town rival Warren County 41-24 in the championship round of the Conference 28 duals. "Partisan," in this instance, represented both of the student bodies, as somebody from one of the schools was cheering on every move, it seemed.
The two teams -- which almost equally shared rooting interests -- will meet again in the February post-season conference tournament, which will send wrestlers to the Class 3A East regional, but for now, this bout helped determine seedings for the postseason.
Not to mention bragging rights.
"It's always nice to win and to beat Warren County because they're good," said Skyline coach Matt Keel. "It's for bragging rights. They talk about it at the Melting Pot, they talk about it at the park. They talk about it in class."
"I think the rivalry is intensified because all these guys went to the same middle school, so they know each other," said Warren coach Matt Wadas. "That may change when they build a new middle school, but for now, they share that. Some of these wrestlers have been going against each other since they were in middle school."
"I have been wrestling Terrace [Thompson] and Tyler [Barisciano] since we were in middle school, so it's old teammate versus old teammate," said Skyline 132-pounder Noah Goss, who became the first junior in school history to win 100 matches (against 28 losses) when he dropped his Wildcat opponent to give his team its first points of the championship match.
Skyline finished 5-0, defeating Loudoun Valley 57-1; William Monroe 53-24; John Champe 45-24 and Central (66-14) leading up to the final round. Warren County was 4-1, with victories over William Monroe 57-22; John Champe 45-24; Central 71-12 and Loudoun Valley 50-24, before its final match with Skyline. It was a round-robin match among the six conference schools.
Goss gave Skyline those initial points after the eventual winning team went down 18-0 to Warren's peerless first three; those being Zach Beckner (106), Tyler Barisciano at 120 and Thompson at 126. Beckner and Thompson are undefeated this year, while Barisciano has lost on just one occasion
The same three were crowned winners in those weight classes at the Warren County duals, when the rivals were on the same card at the Warren Invitational on Jan. 4.
"Those three are really something. They've been having great years," said Wadas, who surpassed former coach Rodger Seemiller, 183-182, in all-time wins as a coach on Jan. 8 when Warren claimed a road sweep at the Madison County quad tournament.
Skyline now leads Warren County by one meet in their lifetime head-to-head against each other.
Keel's overall Skyline record since he started the program is 88-67. His team is 12-0 in dual meets this season.
"The best part about this rivalry is that it's a good one and good for both schools and wrestling in our area. Those are two great programs," said Central coach Roger Barbee.
Three of Barbee's individual wrestlers -- Jacob Ingham at 182; Thomas Peacemaker at 138 and Colton LeCraw (113) -- finished respectively 5-0, 5-0 and 4-1 in the day-long event.
Goss' victory, which helped his team climb within 13 points of the runner-up, was met by a standing ovation by the Skyline home crowd, after the championship team match, one team match had moved to mat No. 1.
Immediately following, Goss slipped on a hot lime T-shirt which read "Skyline Wrestling" on the front and "Goss 100 Wins" on the back. A photo was taken of him in his new tog, and Keel announced his accomplishment over the loudspeaker at the end of the match.
Yet, Skyline had work to do.
"I was concerned until Alex Shaffer [of Skyline edged Warren's Eric Sadler 6-5 in the 182-pound match], which put us on top for the first time (24-23). I felt a lot better about our chances after that," said Goss.
Shaffer gave the eventual champs the slim one-point lead, but Tristan Stone at 195, Keith Sanker at 220 and Ronnie Clifton at 285 gave Skyline decisive victories in the final three matches of the afternoon to set the final score.
Keel had been in Sanker's ear leading up to his second-period win at 5:19, and was so excited about it after the meet that the coach playfully wrapped the youngster's legs in wrapping tape.
Stone mastered Zach Smith at 1:27 of the third period and Clifton took just 52.9 seconds to take down his Warren opponent for the clincher.
"I knew we had the advantage up top. Warren County -- they bring their 'A game' whenever we meet and so I knew it would be a challenge, but I was confident," said Keel.
"We knew they were good up top," added Wadas. "We figured it would be as competitive as it was. We always go back and forth when we wrestle and this was no different."
Garrett Maddox (145), Josiah Huston (152), and Dustin Santmyers (160) were victorious for Skyline.
Tyler Shanholtz was the other Warren County winner in the championship match.