Schanholtz lifts Wildcats to second in Sherando tourney

STEPHENS CITY — Warren County’s Tyler Schanholtz literally turned his team’s fortunes around and carried the Wildcats “on his back,” according to his coach Saturday in the two-day Andrew Kenney Memorial Classic at Sherando High School.

“Yes, I think it was the pivotal match — kind of like the quarterback who fumbles the ball on the goal line [and the other team carries it the opposite way for a touchdown],” Warren County wrestling coach Matt Wadas said.

Eastern View — like Sherando — a VHSL Group 4A school won the championship, besting the 3A Wildcats in the gold trophy round 43-31, but Schanholtz’s heroics occurred in the semifinal match against Sherando.

Warren County topped the host school, 45-33, for only the fourth time in the wrestling histories of the two teams, according to Wadas, and Schanholtz was a major reason why.

Sherando finished third in the event, knocking off Tuscarora 43-30.

Eastern View finished undefeated (7-0), Sherando’s record was 6-1 and Warren finished the event at 5-2. Because of pool play, the Wildcats earned the silver cup because of Saturday’s duel with the Warriors.

Twelve schools of varying sizes from three states participated.

Friday night, Sherando had come from behind to edge Warren County 37-33 in Round 1, but when the pool draw put them together in the championship bracket late Saturday afternoon, the Wildcats turned the tables.

Saturday, it was the Warriors who led the match 18-6 and seemed to be cruising toward victory when Schanholtz, the senior co-captain, flipped the switch on Warrior James Platts in the 145-pound bout.

Platts held a 7-3 lead when Schanholtz literally flipped him over and earned the pin to pull Warren County within 18-12 of its home-standing competitor.

“That was pretty tough,” admitted Sherando coach Pepper Martin. “That represented pretty much an 18-point swing. We were winning the match at ’45, we had the four-point lead, but we got pinned. Then we got ‘pinned at ’52 and ’60 and before you know it, we were trailing.”

Following Schanholtz’s work, Warren’s Tristan Ward pinned Sherando’s Jacob Marshall at 152. Then Jackie Beglane followed suit against Warrior 160 pounder Tim Coleman. Suddenly the Wildcats were ahead 24-18.

Sherando’s John Borst stopped the Warren County skein by knocking off John Kenyon at 170, but the Wildcats were not through.

Tied at 24, Warren won the 182-pound bout by forfeit for a 30-24 score, but in the next match Warrior 195-pounder Kendall Helsley decisioned Wildcat Zach Smith, 3-2.

Ahead 30-27, Warren’s 220-pound freshman, D.J. Almarode, earned the winning points, pinning Ethan Stern for a 36-27 lead.

Sherando heavyweight Ben Avery pinned Connor McMacken to cut the Wildcat advantage to 36-33, but the match had been decided. Both the 106 and 113 weights went to Warren County for the final score.

“I can’t say enough about our team,” Wadas said. “We lost our 182 [pound Nathan Johnson] to vertigo [Friday] morning. He couldn’t wrestle and then saw the doctor [Saturday]. But our co-captains [Zach Beckner, Jacob Schneider and Schanholtz] really pulled us through. They’ve been doing a great job on and off the mat, and some of our underclassmen are following their lead.”

Beckner, who was a state Group 3A runner-up at 106 a year ago, finished the meet 5-0 at 120.

Meantime, Martin saw four of his grapplers (Curtis Guthridge at 126, Colton Simmons at 138, Borst and Avery) go 5-0 for the weekend’s matches.

“I can’t say enough about Pepper Martin and the way his kids wrestled,” said Wadas. “On Friday, Schanholtz had beaten [Platts] and he showed him some things that made him tougher on Saturday. This is the first time we’ve been in this meet, I think, and when he called me and asked if we wanted to wrestle it, I jumped at it.”

“We wrestled pretty well. I thought our conditioning was good. We had some takedowns, that’s to be expected. We were just a little inconsistent, I thought,” Martin said.

The Warriors, too, were missing several stalwarts. Their regular 106 man is academically ineligible this semester and the starter at 152 failed to make weight.

“But that’s no excuse,” the veteran coach said. “That’s part of wrestling.”