Beckner pulls third straight title at Handley

WINCHESTER — Now preparing for the last lap of his high school regular season career, Warren County senior Zach Beckner has other things on his mind aside from wrestling. Like where he may be going to continue that career on the collegiate level.

But before he makes a commitment on that front, he wants to accomplish more for the Wildcats.

On Saturday, Beckner became the first individual participant to win three straight championships at the annual Handley Judges Invitational at Maddex-Omps Gymnasium — a 16-man scramble format which included 15 other teams, including Strasburg, from around the Old Dominion.

On top of that Beckner, wrestling at 126, was awarded the lower weight Outstanding Wrestler for the second straight time due to his 5-0 record here.

“Since we went to the individual tournament three years ago, he would be the first to win it each year,” said David Scott, Handley coach and tournament coordinator.

“I want to win another state tournament,” said Beckner, fresh off his fifth straight pin-this one over Clarke County’s Bayne Gordon-of the event.

Of course Beckner, who has never lost a match at Warren County High School, picked up the VHSL Group 3A state crown last spring. So, now, he is looking for a second consecutive trophy. Should he grab it, he would become the first wrestler in the history of WCHS to win multiple state tourneys.

“I guess the big thing about today was that I got all pins,” Beckner said. “I knew I could do it, I just had to take control,” Beckner said.

Because of his three years under Warren County coach Matt Wadas, Beckner, who finished among the top six wrestlers at the national Beast of the East event, has received recruiting interest from schools like Division I George Mason, Old Dominion and North Carolina State, not to mention NCAA Division II and III schools.

He said Saturday he liked the thought of D1 George Mason because he thinks he could get on the mat quickly. Other DI’s-like ODU and N.C. State-want him to redshirt, sit out his first year with four to go.

“It just depends on whether I want to redshirt or not. Of those schools, I think I could get on with George Mason first, but you just don’t know,” Beckner said.

Also, in his mind is the question of commitment. He understands that going DI, he is making almost a yearly pledge to work 10 months of the year. Division IIs and IIIs are different. The time commitment is lesser because these rarely have scholarship money for a wrestler like Beckner, who could get more aid from the larger schools.

Beckner, who says he carries a 3.4 grade point average, then must decide for a larger time commitment with more aid available or a lesser time schedule with commensurate assistance.

Of course academic and need-based scholarships are available, too.

“I’ll figure it all out, but right now I just want to wrestle,” he said.

Another wrestler chasing a legacy is Strasburg’s Dylan Campbell. A member of one of the Rams’ “first families of wrestling,” Campbell’s brother, Nic, currently at GMU, was a fourtime state winner.

Cousin Ricky Tisinger earned two state crowns and father, Jeff, helps coach the boys.

Dylan, a junior, is looking for his first state crown. At Handley, he opened a 5-0 lead over Handley’s Cam Bentley in the 138-pound finals, only to fall behind 10-5 to finish runnerup.

“I got my arm caught in there and couldn’t get it out and he took advantage of it. I’ve just got to be quicker,” Campbell said. “He caught me. I was out of position.

“I think I’m improving,” for instance, I beat a guy today who I lost to earlier in the season.”

That was Elijah Bryant of John Champe, who Campbell dropped after losing to Bryant at the Eastern View Invitational.

“He got up 5-0, then fell behind,” said Strasburg coach Mike Wood. “That’s one thing good and one thing negative. That’s mistakes. You have to stay in position to win because now you’re taking on better wrestlers.”

Another local to finish runner up was Warren’s Nathan Johnson (4-1), a sophomore who wrestles at 285.

Johnson blitzed through the undercard before taking on Freedom East Riding’s Eres Karaaslan, a senior who was 32-0. Johnson, who tips the scales at 217, was giving away 68 pounds to Karaaslan.

“He’s strong,” said Johnson. “I tried to let him use his own momentum to get under me, but he fought me off (a Fall 3:15).

The Warren County Josts fared well, too. Freshman Hunter finished third at 106, losing a decision 4-0 to Guillermo Torres (Harrisonburg). Connor finished No. 3 at 145.

Perhaps the best bout of the day featuring local wrestlers came in the match for third place where Strasburg’s 220 pounder, Josh Pritchett, flipped Warren County sophomore D.J. Almarode enroute to a Fall at 4:20.

Wrestlers were divided into pools of four competitors on Saturday morning. The pools were based on seedings 1-16. Each wrestler competed against individuals in his or her pool, then they were bracketed in the afternoon based on their pool finish.

Everyone was awarded five scraps. Team trophies for first and second place were awarded, with individual awards going to places Nos. 1-4.

Freedom South Riding won the team event with 414.5 points. Handley finished runnerup with 395.5 points. Warren County was third with 374 points. Strasburg, the other local team, finished tied with North Stafford for seventh place, both earning 253 points.

The Rams went into battle without 113-pound Kyle Sisk, who finished third in the Group 2A state tournament last year, and at least one other starter, 182-pound Ryan Bowers. Both were injured.


Handley Invitational


Team scores

Freedom South Riding 414.5, 2. Handley 395.5, 3. Warren County 374, 4. Wooodgrove 370.5, 5. W.T. Woodson 295.5, 6. Champe 260.5, T7 North Stafford 253, Strasburg 253, 9. Harrisonburg 292.5, 10. Turner Ashby 242, 11. Herndon 225.5, 12. Clarke County 222.5, 13. Tuscarora 196.5, 14. Rock Ridge 194.5, 15. Jefferson Forrest 184, Episcopal N/A

Individual results (top 4):

Warren County: H. Jost (3rd, 106), Cruz (2nd, 113), Beckner (1st, 126); C. Jost (3rd, 145), Michael White (4th, 160), D.J. Almarode (4th, 220), Johnson (2nd, 285).

Strasburg: Campbell (2nd, 138), Josh Pritchett (3rd, 220)