By Brad Fauber
Strasburg's wrestling team has been consistent on the mat all season long, and the Rams are in as good a position as any to take home the team championship at the Region 2A East tournament this weekend.
The Rams qualified a full 14-man team for the regional tournament due to the configuration of last weekend's Conference 35 tournament, and the fact that the regional tournament is being held at Strasburg should only strengthen the Rams' chances of taking home the 2A East title.
But Strasburg head coach Mike Wood still has some concerns, especially after getting a look at the tournament bracket that was released earlier this week.
"The one thing that caught my eye is that we have six byes [in the first round] and Clarke County has three," Wood said in a phone interview Wednesday. "We're going to have to play a little catch-up.
"We're going to be behind the 8-ball a little bit, and the guys know it."
Wood said he expects Clarke County to be the Rams' stiffest competition in the regional tournament, which has been pushed back to Saturday and Sunday due to weather concerns. The tournament will begin at 2 p.m. Saturday and will pick back up on Sunday at 10 a.m.
The fact that Clarke County has three fewer byes in the first round means the Eagles have several more opportunities for bonus points -- which come in the form of pins, tech falls and major decisions -- that accompany the points awarded for the advancement of each wrestler into subsequent rounds.
Still, Strasburg -- which has beaten Clarke County head-to-head multiple times this season, including in last weekend's conference tournament -- should have plenty of confidence that it can maintain that success this weekend.
Of the 14 Rams wrestling in the regional tournament, four are the top seeds in their respective weight classes: Dylan Campbell (113 pounds), Eric Reynolds (120), Nic Campbell (126) and Hunter Dean (132). Two more Strasburg wrestlers -- Marco Gallagher (145) and Tyler Drummond (160) -- are No. 2 seeds.
"Our goal is to get 10 to states," Wood said, "and if we wrestle like we have been then that's a very attainable goal."
Like Strasburg, Skyline will be sending a full team to the 3A East regional tournament, which is currently scheduled for Friday and Saturday at John Champe High School in Aldie. The championship round is planned to start at 5 p.m. Saturday.
"It is, in my opinion, a big deal that we qualified all 14 wrestlers to the region tournament," Hawks coach Matt Keel said in an email. "So far, we are the only team I'm aware of that qualified all 14 wrestlers to the next round in 3A. That speaks to the depth of this program."
The Hawks, coming off a team title in the Conference 28 tournament last week, should expect tough competition this weekend from Poquoson, as well as New Kent and Brentsville, who finished fourth and fifth, respectively, in last year's Group AA state tournament.
Junior Noah Goss (132) is Skyline's lone No. 1 seed in the regional tournament, and junior Josiah Huston (152) and senior Dustin Santmyers are No. 2 seeds for the Hawks.
Keel said Skyline has never had more than two regional champions in a season, and the Hawks could change that with a strong showing this weekend.
"I tell the guys that I think it is important to have realistic long-term goals, but to believe in yourself unrealistically in the short-term," Keel said. "...We want to take 14 to states. We are aware that this is an unrealistic goal, but you won't convince a Skyline wrestler right now that we can't do it."
Sherando narrowly missed out on sending a full team to the 4A North regional at Eastern View High School this weekend, as the Warriors qualified 13 wrestlers during last Saturday's Conference 21 tournament. The 4A North regional has been moved to Saturday and Sunday due to weather.
The Warriors advanced eight individuals to the conference championship round last weekend, and Sherando had three wrestlers claim conference titles in Jacob Guthridge (132), P.K. Jessen (170) and Tyler Hamilton (220). Those three will be No. 1 seeds in the regional tournament.
Sherando, which ran away with the conference team title, will face some tough competition in the regional tournament, which will feature Fauquier and Eastern View, last year's third-place finisher at the Group AA state tournament.
"It's going to be quite a battle. Some of those other conferences, we're going to be seeing Fauquier, Eastern View ... they're going to have some solid teams there," Warriors coach Pepper Martin said after the conference tournament last Saturday. "Some of our wrestlers [last Saturday] put themselves in a really good position to have some good seeds and maybe have an opportunity to get in the finals."
Warren County will send 10 wrestlers to the 3A East regional after a runner-up finish in the Conference 28 tournament.
Of those 10, sophomore Zach Beckner (106), senior Tyler Barisciano (113) and senior Terrace Thompson (120) are the tops seeds in their weight classes. The trio has combined for a sparkling 112-2 record this season.
"I've been telling my kids, 'If you survive and you can make it to states, I think we can be a placer,' because this is one of the hardest regions in all six divisions," Warren County coach Matt Wadas said. "I think this is a battle-tested region and we were in a battle-test conference, so it's going to be an exciting opportunity."
Central will send five wrestlers to the 3A East regional tournament, with senior Thomas Peacemaker (138) earning a No. 2 seed. Colton Lecraw (113), Wyatt Robinson (120), Ryan Freiwald (152) and Jacob Ingham (182) will also compete.
Stonewall Jackson advanced 10 wrestlers to the 2A East tournament, including Andrew Good (132), Christopher Delaughter (145), Kyle Cowart (152) and Mathias McCabe (160), each of which finished second in last weekend's Conference 35 tournament.
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD