Warren County, Sherando grapplers see improvement

STEPHENS CITY-It was “déjà vu” all over again at the Sherando High School gymnasium Saturday as for the second straight year, visiting Eastern View took home the annual Andrew Kenney Memorial Warrior Wrestling Duals Classic championship trophy. Locals Warren County and Sherando finished second and third.

That was the order of ascendency a year ago, and this season’s bevy of matches put the same three teams in the same order as a year ago.

Even so local coaches like Warren’s Matt Wadas, whose team lost the title match by just three points, and Sherando’s Pepper Martin, the Hall of Famer, seemed decently impressed by their squads, this so early in the season.

“For the most part, it was a hotly contested match all the way-around,” said Martin, who in the offseason was presented with the 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award by the Virginia Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame. “Realistically, from bottom-to-top, we wrestled pretty well. Eastern View-dual-wise-is strong. And Warren County came out of the other bracket to wrestle well.”

Both Sherando, which claimed a fifth-place tie in the Group 4A state wrestling tournament in Salem a year ago, and Warren climbed out of their pools on Friday, unscathed.

The way it turned out, the final four teams of the two-day event included Eastern View, the Warriors, the Wildcats and Brooke Point.

Saturday, in the second day of activity, Sherando dropped Tuscarora 63-15 and John Champe 54-15, before losing to Eastern View 41-36. Then the Warriors turned around and docked Brooke Point in the consolation 54-18. Martin’s team finished in third place.

Meanwhile, Warren narrowly missed out on its second victorious tournament of the young season (the ‘Cats had already won their own duals). On Saturday, it defeated Riverside 84-0, Amherst 42-27 and Brooke Point 40-19, only to lose 33-30 to Eastern View in the championship match.

“We finished second, but we finished a strong second,” said Warren County All-Stater Zach Beckner, wrestling at 126 pounds this year after dominating Group 3A wrestling circles a season ago.

“Last year, they routed us. But this season it was so much closer (33-30). We’re young, but we’re improving. I could see how this team could come back here next year and do just as well.”

Beckner, a senior who already has been offered a scholarship by Old Dominion, was the 113-pound state championship last year, losing just one match out of 49 and earning 31 pins.

The senior finished undefeated at the Kenney Classic, so did freshman teammate Hunter Jost at 106.

For Sherando, 182-pounder John Borst, another returning state champ, went undefeated, along with teammate, Curtis Guthridge, who moved up to 152 this year after losing in double-overtime in the consolation semifinals at the 4A states’ 126-pound rank.

“I told my team afterward that that squad (Eastern View) is probably going to wind up in the state tournament, so, that-if we can hang with them-we can pretty much hang with anybody. I thought it was a great start,” said Wadas.

Borst and Beckner will participate in the nationally recognized Beast of the East tournament at the University of Delaware this weekend. It will be an opportunity for both wrestlers to meet foes on the national levels.

“But you’ve got to win and advance or it doesn’t mean much,” Beckner said.

Meanwhile, Warren County and Sherando will participate in the annual Turner Ashby tournament on Friday and Saturday.

Sherando will not have another shot at Eastern View until the state tournament. The two schools do not share the same conference or region.

Contact Jim Laise at sports@nvdaily.com