Hawks, Rams have solid weekend in Appalachian Duals

FRONT ROYAL-Two wrestlers who were not even on the mat for Skyline High School last year left a lasting impression on their foes Saturday here at the ninth annual Appalachian Duals on Andrew Keller Court.

Joey Norman and Joe Pingley fared positively for the Hawks, who finished winners of the consolation round of their own tournament-ninth place overall.

Damascus (Md.), for the second straight year, claimed the overall team prize, followed by Handley, Potomac and Annandale in the two-day event.

Strasburg, at Group 2A, perhaps the smallest school entered among the 16 competing squads, whipped Skyline 42-30 in round one of Friday’s pool duals — along with West Springfield 48-33 — but lost Potomac 56-18 in Friday’s third round.

Ultimately, the Rams, who were champions of a match at Wilson Memorial High School and runner-up in an event at state power Eastern View recently, finished Saturday in the championship bracket with a 2-3 record.

“Joey Norman had shoulder surgery last year and was unable to wrestle,” Skyline coach Matt Keel said. “… Joe Pingley never wrestled before, but he played football. We encourage football players to come out and wrestle,” Keel said.

Norman, wrestling at 195 pounds, went 6-0 for the tourney, while Pingley was 5-1.

“How about that?” asked Keel rhetorically. “A football player, coming out for wrestling for the first time and winning matches with wrestling moves.”

Keel said getting Pingley, at 285, was a “matter of me talking to his mother, then him talking with his mother before it was fine.”

Gerren Butler, a 285-pound wrestler, also played football for the Hawks. He is a redshirt freshman offensive lineman at James Madison this year.

Keith Sanker, who finished 4-2 at 170 and 182, also played football this season.

Curt Boswell finished 5-1, winning a quintet of matches after losing his first bout.

Talon Keel, a freshman and the coach’s oldest son, finished 4-2.

“I’ve been coaching him since he was little, so that wasn’t so different. Wrestling on the varsity stage was. He calls me ‘coach’ and everything. I’m proud of him,” said Keel.

Like Skyline, Strasburg had several standout performances but not enough depth to pursue a deeper run in the championship bracket. Injuries and illness plagued the Rams’ fortunes Saturday, according to coach Mike Wood.

After knocking out Skyline and West Springfield in Friday’s first two rounds, they lost 56-18 to Potomac.

Still in the winners round — because the first two teams in each pool advanced there –Strasburg subsequently lost matches to Handley and Lake Braddock among stiffer competition than Skyline faced.

The 130-pound Dylan Campbell (5-0) and 220-pound Josh Pritchett (5-0) each went undefeated. Campbell was the state Group 2A 126-pound runner-up in 2014-15.

Austin Cooper, the Group 2A state champion in 2014-15 at 113, finished 3-2 at 126.

Kyle Sisk, the state’s third place winner at 106, finished 4-1 at 113.

Strasburg finished No. 3 at last year’s state tournament.