Rams perfect in Strasburg Duals, defend title

Kyle Sisk

STRASBURG – Kyle Sisk achieved a wrestling milestone in timely fashion Saturday afternoon.

With his teammates needing a boost after falling behind Wilson Memorial in the fourth round of the Strasburg Duals, the Strasburg junior provided it. Sisk’s pin in the 113-pound match – his 100th career high school victory – started a string of Ram wins that sent Strasburg to a team victory over the Green Hornets.

And importantly for Sisk, he reached the century mark in Strasburg’s gymnasium in front of a home crowd.

“It’s been a dream of mine since freshman year to get it at home,” Sisk said. “Freshman year I said I’m gonna (get my 100th win) at home and I got it today. It felt really good to get it here at home, especially with my family up there and all the fans, the team supporting me. It’s been good.”

Sisk’s win against Wilson Memorial was one of two consecutive times on Saturday the junior notched a timely pin to help rally the Rams from an early deficit. He did it again in Strasburg’s final match of the day against 5A George Marshall to help the Rams finish 5-0 in the six-team field to defend their Strasburg Duals championship.

Strasburg opened the tournament with runaway victories over 4A Heritage-Leesburg (66-15) and Madison County (58-24) in the morning. As the competition stiffened in the afternoon after a short lunch break, the Rams picked up wins over defending 2A state champion Clarke County (45-25), Wilson Memorial (42-27) and George Marshall (46-26). Three Rams went 5-0 in the tournament – Sisk (four pins), 120-pound sophomore Brandon Swink (one pin, two major decisions) and 136-pound junior Dylan Campbell (three pins).

Facing Wilson in a dual match for the second time this winter, Strasburg found itself trailing 24-3 after five bouts, its lone win in that span coming from junior Josh Pritchett’s 5-0 decision over Brad Thomas in the 220-pound matchup.

Sisk then shifted the momentum by pinning Will Abruzzese in 1:01, the first of eight straight victories for the Rams in the match.

“In those matches where we’re down … we’re looking for someone to change the momentum, and once we can do that we can roll along with it, roll to a win,” Sisk said. “We usually like to have one person start it and everybody’s hype about it and then it keeps going from there.”

Swink immediately followed with a 2-0 decision over Wilson’s Eric Calvert – a fellow Group 2A state qualifier last season – to cut the Hornets’ lead to 24-12.

“You just have to keep going with it, keep getting pins,” Swink, one of a handful of experienced Ram wrestlers in the lighter weights. “Bonus points are the biggest. It’s saved us in a lot of duals this season.”

Three straight pins followed for Strasburg, as junior 126-pounder Austin Cooper (0:26), senior 132-pounder Eric Reynolds (5:30) and Campbell (0:58) earned six team points apiece to vault Strasburg to a 30-24 lead. Another pin by senior Corie Baker in the 160-pound match sealed Strasburg’s victory.

In what turned into a dual for the team championship, the Rams again fell behind in their final match of the day against George Marshall, trailing 17-0 after four matches before Sisk’s pin that required just 26 seconds.

Swink’s 18-6 major decision and pins by Cooper (2:34), Reynolds (3:26), Campbell (4:34) and senior 145-pounder Ben Rodriguez (3:18) gave Strasburg a 34-17 lead.

“We got in a hole in heavyweights but once we got into the lighter weights we started picking it up and getting the pins that really mattered,” said Campbell, last year’s 2A 126-pound state runner-up.

Baker again locked up the Rams’ win – and the Strasburg Duals championship trophy – with his 42-second pin, his fourth of the afternoon. Baker, who went 4-1 on Saturday, suffered his lone defeat in Strasburg’s first match of the day when he bumped up to 170 pounds against Heritage’s Fletcher Davis.

This season is Baker’s first on the wrestling team since his freshman year, when he competed at 138 and 145 pounds.

“I will admit, (Davis) was a good kid. He got me but it was a good match I believe, a good experience,” Baker said of his loss by pin to Heritage.

“This is my first year at 160 and it’s a big jump from what I used to wrestle but it was a lot better to be back at 160 than 170.”

Strasburg – which wrestled without injured 182-pounder Ryan Bowers – improved to 20-4 in duals matches this season with its performance on Saturday, and head coach Mike Wood said the Rams are seeing improvement from earlier in the season.

“One thing was earlier in the year we tied Wilson 33-33 and won on criteria, so to beat them by 20 was a good turnaround,” Wood said. “We won some matches today in that match that we lost a month ago, so we gained some ground. Clarke’s always gonna wrestling tough even though they have some holes, so to beat them by 20 was good. And then George Marshall, we knew they had a full lineup, didn’t know a whole lot about them. They’re not a bad (5A) team I believe, so to beat them by 20-some (was good).”

Cooper (three pins), last year’s 2A 113-pound state champ, junior 170-pounder Ethan Duckworth (two pins) and Pritchett (three pins) each finished 4-1 for the Rams. Pritchett’s lone loss came in overtime to George Marshall’s John Charette, a fourth-place finisher in the 5A tournament last season.

Rodriguez was 3-0 with two pins for Strasburg, while Reynolds went 3-2 with two pins.

“We’ve got guys from (113) to (145), if somebody doesn’t lose a little bit (of weight) we have potential state champ sitting all year,” Wood said. “So guys have to cut a little bit to get everybody in the right spots.”

Clarke County’s Bryan Wallace was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.

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