Rams wrestlers repeat as county champions

Strasburg's Ethan Duckworth gets Stonewall Jackson's Bryant Schutz on his back during their 170-pound wrestling match on Jan. 21 at Strasburg. Rich Cooley/Daily file
Stonewall Jackson's Kyle Cowart looks to his bench for suggestions as he controls Strasburg's Bradlee Hodson during the 152-pound match Wednesday evening at Strasburg High School. Cowart won the match. Rich Cooley/Daily

STRASBURG – Hunter Dean was admittedly a little surprised to hear his named called as the most outstanding wrestler of the Shenandoah County wrestling championship on Wednesday.

After all, the Strasburg senior had actually wrestled just once that evening against county rivals Central and Stonewall Jackson, claiming a win via pin against Stonewall and settling for a victory by forfeit against the Falcons. But Dean gladly accepted the award, a nice honor to cap a flawless Senior Night performance on his 18th birthday.

“I’m definitely happy I got it. I think that’s the first time I’ve gotten it in the county meet,” said Dean, who went 4-0 in the Rams’ home match that also included East Rockingham and Rappahannock County. “Coach [Mike Wood] said it wasn’t so much about tonight, it was more what I’ve done all year. That felt good to get that. I was definitely excited. I didn’t expect it, though.”

What Dean probably did expect, however, was for Strasburg to have its way with its opposition on Wednesday. And the Rams did.

Strasburg claimed the Shenandoah County championship for the second year in a row by beating Stonewall Jackson, 72-9, and Central, 76-3. The Rams topped off their dominant evening by beating East Rockingham (69-12) and Rappahannock County (64-15) to end the night as the match’s lone unbeaten team.

The victory was a little bittersweet for the Rams, however, as Central, Stonewall and East Rockingham each only fielded about half a 14-man lineup on Wednesday.

“It’s a little bit of bragging rights, I guess,” Wood said of Strasburg’s county championship. “It’s a little disappointing when you’ve got to get some forfeits because you want to get the guys some work, especially getting close to the end of the year and getting ready for conference and regionals. You just want to get some matches and it’s a little frustrating with the forfeits. But we got it out of the way and we’re going to go to Clarke [County] on Saturday, which should be pretty tough.”

Although the Rams were dealt plenty of uneventful wins by forfeit, they took care of business when they actually got time on the mat. Strasburg dominated the all-county selections, claiming 11 of the 14 spots, and had nine wrestlers — Kyle Sisk (106 pounds), Austin Cooper (113), Dylan Campbell (126), Nic Campbell (132), Dean (145), Randy Stokes (160), Ethan Duckworth (170), Garrett Richards (182) and Josh Pritchett (220) — finish the night with perfect 4-0 records. Jay Gomez (138) and Christian Plaugher (195) joined that group as all-county honorees.

Of the Rams’ nine unbeatens, eight finished the night with at least two pins.

“Today I just felt like I had to get bonus points,” said Sisk, who had two pins, a major decision and forfeit on Wednesday. “My forfeit [against Central], you can’t do anything with that but I can get bonus points from that. But with my other matches I just tried to go out there and get bonus points and just keep scoring points. My last match [against Rappahannock County] I was trying to get us bonus points. I couldn’t get the pin, but I still got us a major.”

In a battle of shorthanded lineups, Stonewall Jackson topped Central, 60-23, to earn the runner-up finish in the Shenandoah County championship.

“It’s good for the team,” said junior 152-pounder Kyle Cowart, the only General to go 3-0 on Wednesday. “They liked it. They liked winning for once.”

The Generals lost 41-36 to East Rockingham in their only match against non-county competition.

Cowart was one of two Stonewall Jackson wrestlers to earn all-county honors, as he was joined by freshman heavyweight Dakota Bush, who won both of his Shenandoah County matches by forfeit.

Those two wrestlers were the only two Generals to earn points against Strasburg, as Cowart beat Bradlee Hodson by way of a 9-3 decision after scoring seven points in the third period.

“I had fun today,” said Cowart, who also had a pin against Central’s Daniel George and a win by forfeit.

“Last year me and [Hodson] went back and forth. I think I beat him like three times, I don’t know. He’s good. That was probably one of the tougher matches I’ve had all year.”

Stonewall Jackson had six wrestlers go 2-1 on Wednesday, but only sophomore Matt Oczkowski (138 pounds) had those wins come by something other than a forfeit. Oczkowski finished with two pins.

Central, which lost its only non-Shenandoah County match, 60-20, to Rappahannock County, had one wrestler earn all-county honors. Junior Colton Lecraw claimed the 120-pound spot after winning both of his matches against county competition.

Lecraw, who finished 3-0 overall, earned two tech fall victories against Stonewall and Rappahannock County and squeezed out a 3-2 win over Strasburg’s Brandon Swink when he scored an escape point with three seconds left in the third period.

“My second match, I knew that was going to be my tough match of the day with Strasburg,” Lecraw said. “I came out there and he was a really good wrestler. I just had more conditioning, I think, than he did.”

Falcons junior Wyatt Robinson (126 pounds) went 2-1 on Wednesday with a decision.

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com

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