By Brad Fauber
STRASBURG -- Strasburg wrestling coach Mike Wood admits that it's a little tough to be completely focused for matches against weaker teams that forfeit a lot of weight classes. So when the Rams rolled to easy wins over Rappahannock County and Moorefield (W.Va.) in the first two rounds of Strasburg's home quad meet on Wednesday, Wood made sure his team was ready for the third and final match against a much tougher Clarke County team.
Wood pulled the Rams into the wrestling room prior to that match with the Eagles, and Strasburg seemed to respond. The Rams built a comfortable lead early against Clarke County and held off a late surge by the Eagles in an eventual 45-28 win over their Bull Run District rivals, ending the night a perfect 3-0.
Strasburg beat Rappahannock County 66-14 in the opening round, and rolled to a 78-6 rout in the second round against Moorefield.
"The first two matches, it's hard to get up when you're wrestling some teams that have six or seven forfeits," Wood said. "That's tough to do, and I told those guys that Clarke's not going to be an easy match. They're a good team. I knew they were a little bit better than us in the upper weights, so we had to get a little bit of a lead going in there."
Rams sophomore Eric Reynolds provided a solid start against Clarke County in the 120-pound match against Eagles junior Sean Erisman. Reynolds built an 8-2 lead after a strong second period, and the sophomore was able to snag an extra point for Strasburg with a takedown with four seconds remaining in the match to give Reynolds a 10-2 major decision.
Strasburg's two-time defending state champ, Nic Campbell, then completed his solid day with a first-round pin of Clarke County junior Braden Childs in the 126-pound bout. Campbell scored a pair of early takedowns on Childs before picking up his third first-round pin of the evening with 46 seconds showing on the clock.
"We knew that me and a couple of other people needed bonus points, so I was just going out there to build some stats and do what I can to help my team out by getting some bonus points," Campbell said.
"I hit a Turk, and then I usually get my three-count on the back and then I take his arm and throw a half [nelson]."
Rams sophomore Hunter Dean -- another defending state champion -- followed with first-period pin to extend Strasburg's lead to 16-0, and senior Dalton Dillman (138) won his third match of the night with a 10-2 major decision to push the Rams' lead to 20.
Junior Bradlee Hodson (145) fought to an 8-2 win over Eagles sophomore Jaxon Ottobre, but the match was officially ruled a forfeit in favor of Hodson after it was revealed that Ottobre didn't meet the minimum weight requirement to compete at 145. A pin by junior Marco Gallagher (152) then gave Strasburg a 32-0 lead.
Rams senior Tyler Drummond capped Strasburg's opening surge by recording his third pin of the night when he flipped Matthew Cleary on his back and pinned him with 35 seconds left in the second period.
"He's was a pretty good kid. I thought it would be pretty tough, and it was. Things just worked out," said Drummond, one of four returning state qualifiers for the Rams.
"I guess my takedowns were pretty good tonight. That was pretty much the main thing. I've been working hard on that stuff."
Clarke County then made things slightly interesting, as Ben Wallace and Logan Withers each picked up pins to cut Strasburg's lead to 38-12. But Strasburg freshman Joshua Pritchett delivered a huge 10-5 win over Sean Hill in the 195-pound bout to seal the victory for Strasburg.
"I pulled those guys [in the upper weights] in there and I said one of you guys is going to have to come up with a win, because we could lose this match still," Wood said. "For a first-year kid, he's only a freshman, but some good things are going to come out of [Pritchett]. He's wrestled well for only being in the room for 40-some days. He's coming along."
Clarke County picked up two more pins and a major decision victory, but Strasburg freshman Dylan Campbell finished on a strong note with a 10-0 major decision win in the 113-pound match.
The eight wrestlers in the 113- to 160-pound weight classes went a combined 22-2 on Wednesday, with Nic Campbell, Drummond and Dillman all finished with perfect 3-0 records in matches that didn't include forfeits.
Strasburg opened the quad meet with a lopsided win over Rappahannock County, as the Rams tallied eight pins in the match while also winning three matches by forfeit.
Moorefield forfeited seven matches against Strasburg in the second round, but Rams junior Randy Stokes did provide one of the more thrilling matches of the afternoon when he rallied to pin Moorefield's Sam Kesner in the 170-pound bout. Stokes trailed 4-1 after two periods, but he was able to work his way onto Kesner's back late in the match and got the pin with just 16 seconds left in the third period.
Strasburg (14-3) returns to action in its home duals tournament on Saturday.
"I'm really happy where we're at. We have a lot of room to improve, but we're on a good pace," Wood said. "We have five more [matches] Saturday, and I think we can win the tournament Saturday. It's going to be tough, but I think we're one of the favorites."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD