By Brad Fauber
STEPHENS CITY -- Sherando senior Tyler Hamilton has been outstanding on the wrestling mat for the Warriors all season long, and there was no reason for Hamilton to believe that success wouldn't continue in the Conference 21 tournament at Sherando on Saturday -- until he woke up several hours before the meet was scheduled to begin.
Hamilton, who said he had been experiencing flu-like symptoms off and on over the past several days, awoke Saturday morning with a fever, and he was forced to suffer through his symptoms for most of the daylong tournament.
But Hamilton fought through it, as he pinned all three of his opponents en route to a conference title in the 220-pound weight class.
"Today for some reason I woke up not feeling good with a fever and stuff like that," said Hamilton, who is 26-1 this season. "I'm lucky I pulled it out, honestly. I was just feeling horrible. I couldn't breath. I couldn't breath out of my nose ... but I stuck it through and I think did good today."
Hamilton was one of three Sherando wrestlers to claim individual conference championships on Saturday, as the Warriors easily cruised to the overall team title in the eight-team field.
Sherando finished with 243 total points, well ahead of second place Woodgrove's 209.
Hamilton played a large role in the Warriors' success, as he began the day with a second-period pin of Dominion's Julius Ramsey before pinning Park View's Brijido Ceron in just 48 seconds to reach the 220-pound title bout.
Against James Wood's Adam Vaddal in the championship, Hamilton began quickly by scoring a takedown 20 seconds into the first period, and a near-fall 10 seconds later gave the senior a 5-0 lead. Hamilton was awarded top position on a restart, and he was eventually able to turn Vaddal onto his back for a pin at the 1:38 mark.
"I just shook him down and I had a single leg, lifted it up, rode it on top," Hamilton said. "I was working my bars and then I went to my Michigan series and I pinned him in that and sunk it in tight."
Hamilton's victory was a fitting end to a dominant team performance for Sherando, which sent a tournament-high eight wrestlers into the final round and advanced 13 individuals to next weekend's 4A North regional tournament at Eastern View High School.
Senior Jacob Guthridge was the first Warrior to win an individual conference title on Saturday, as he scored his third pin of the day in the 132-pound championship against Loudoun County's Austin Pasterla.
Guthridge nearly had Pasterla pinned late in the first period, but time ran out on Guthridge as Pasterla was just able to fend off his late push. Guthridge elected to take the top position to start the second period, and the senior rode Pasterla's back before eventually turning him for a pin at 2:43.
"I was kind of upset on a controversial call [in the first period], I thought I got the two [points] out of bounds but the ref didn't think it was two. I just kept going and then got in on my shot again, finished it and then locked up a cradle and got some quick back points," said Guthridge, who improved to 37-3 this season. "I just took top and ended it in the second. I started up, ran the half and sank it deep."
Guthridge, who was a runner-up at 120 pounds in last season's Group AA tournament, said Saturday provided a good stepping-stone in his quest for a state title.
"Coming into this tournament I saw it as I have 10 guys standing in my way for a state championship. Now I've got seven left at regionals and states," Guthridge said. "That's just how I was taking it, one guy at a time. Today played out well. I pinned everybody, that's what I figured to do. I was trying to work some different stuff here and there."
Sherando senior P.K. Jessen, who pinned Dominion's Janrey Capistano and Woodgrove's Kyle Branch in his first two matches on Saturday, won the 170-pound conference title via forfeit.
Despite the runaway win in the team standings, the Warriors were disappointed with their performance in the championship round, as just three of Sherando's eight wrestlers came out victorious in the finals.
"As a coaching staff we didn't think that, across the board, we wrestled very well in the finals," said Sherando coach Pepper Martin, who earned his 450th career win on Saturday. "Some of the places where we got beaten, we wrestled a better wrestler. There were a couple other weight classes where we felt that if we wrestled up to our capabilities we'd have a champion there. We fell short."
Sherando came up short in the first two bouts of the championship round, as sophomore Mike Duffy (106 pounds) fell to James Wood's Aaron Black, 9-1, and sophomore Curtis Guthridge (113) lost 6-1 to Millbrook's Ryan Meushaw.
Warriors No. 1 seed Jordan Dalton was upset by Loudoun County's C.J. Mills, 5-4, in the 145-pound championship, and Sherando freshman John Borst lost a hard-fought bout to Woodgrove's Jake David, 4-2 at 152. Sherando three-seed Chris Morgan was pinned in the first period by Woodgrove's Gunner Hilling in the 195-pound championship.
Anthony Damico (fourth place, 120 pounds), Andrew Hamilton (fourth, 126), Colton Simmons (third, 138), Killian McPartland (third, 182) and Ben Avery (third, 285) also qualified for the regional tournament.
"We felt confident coming into the tournament because we set ourselves up well for this week," Martin said. "We put ourselves in position but we had to come out here today and we had to step it up a notch. For the most part we did pretty well. More or less we finished about where our seeds were last week."
Contact sports writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 184, or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @BradFauberNVD