Wildcats outlast Hawks in match

Warren County's Nathan Johnson controls Skyline's Joseph Pingley during the 285 pound match during Thursday night's wrestling at Skyline High School in Front Royal. Johnson won the match. Rich Cooley/Daily
Skyline's Curt Boswell controls Warren County's Ian Brannock in the 120 pound weight class Thursday night at Skyline High School in Front Royal. Boswell won the match. Rich Cooley/Daily
Skyline's Anthony Robledo controls Warren County's Bobby Hunger during the 132 pound match Thursday night at Skyline High School in Front Royal. Robledo won the match. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Skyline’s wrestling team had consistently gotten the best of cross-town rival Warren County in head-to-head meetings over the last few years, but the Wildcats ended that streak Thursday night.

Making the short trek across Front Royal, Warren County continued its success in duals matches this season with a 48-15 win over the Hawks. The Wildcats have lost just one dual match all winter.

“The coaches beforehand were like, ‘This is a big rivalry.’ We all know it’s a big rivalry,” Wildcats sophomore Nathan Johnson said. “They’ve been beating us the last few years, so just to win this by this (margin) is very important to us.”

Setting the tone for what would become a night littered with competitive matchups, the opening 182-pound bout between Warren County senior Jacob Schneider and Hawks senior Joey Norman ended with Schneider picking up a 2-0 victory, his eighth in as many meetings over Norman.

The bout began with aggressive hand fighting in the opening period and remained scoreless until Schneider chose the bottom position to start the third period and immediately scored the decisive reversal off the whistle. Norman’s attempt to escape was thwarted when Schneider kept a firm grip on both of Norman’s legs as he shot upward, and Schneider remained in control for the rest of the bout.

“In neutral I was attacking but not really because I didn’t want to give up stupid points, like for a stupid takedown because I did something dumb,” Schneider said. “I knew I could beat him on top/bottom, so that’s where I got my points.”

A Skyline forfeit – one of two for the Hawks in the match – at 195 pounds gave the Wildcats a 9-0 lead before Skyline senior Chandler Heard cut that deficit to three points with a first-period pin of D.J. Almarode at 220. Heard, in his first season of wrestling, scored a quick takedown off a throw with lead immediately to a pin 26 seconds into the bout.

“He is strong,” Hawks coach Matt Keel said of Heard, one of nine Skyline seniors honored before the dual. “People underestimate his strength. Man, he don’t care who he’s wrestling. He has no idea how long D.J. has (been wrestling). He ain’t got no clue. And he don’t care, he just goes out and grabs a hold of people.”

Almarode was in obvious pain when his match with Heard ended. Warren County head coach Matt Wadas said Almarode landed on his right ankle and had some swelling, which prompted the coaching staff to send the sophomore to the emergency room for X-rays.

The momentum Heard built for the Hawks didn’t last long, as Johnson answered with a third-period pin over Skyline senior Joe Pingley in the heavyweight bout. It was Johnson’s first matchup with Pingley, another first-year wrestler for the Hawks.

“I’ve seen him wrestle and he’s seen me wrestle, so we have this little mental game going on,” Johnson said.

Johnson, who said he was surprised by Pingley’s strength on his head drags, built a 5-2 lead after two periods before stuffing a reversal attempt by Pingley early in the third, which put the Skyline senior on his back. Johnson got the pin 30 seconds into the final frame to give the Wildcats a 15-6 lead.

“He was trying to get a reversal on me. I just pulled him back and I won the position because I have better technique at this point,” Johnson said.

Warren County freshman Hunter Jost followed with his 22nd pin of the season, a 44-second fall against Lloyd Lacson at 106. A Skyline forfeit at 113 gave the Wildcats a 27-6 lead before Hawks junior Curt Boswell stopped the win streak with a 6-4 decision over Ian Brannock in an overtime thriller at 120 pounds.

After two scoreless periods, Brannock broke the tie with a reversal one minute into the third frame. Boswell came back with a reversal of his own 30 seconds later, followed by two back points, before Brannock’s reversal in the last five seconds tied the match at 4-4 and sent the bout into overtime. Following a restart after a stalemate with 28 seconds left, Boswell was eventually able to lock his hands around Brannock’s back to earn the winning takedown as the buzzer sounded.

“You get tired at the end there but you’ve gotta push through it,” Boswell said. “You’ve gotta have the heart to win. You’ve gotta want to win.”

Boswell’s win was one of three for Skyline in a four-match span that kept the Hawks in it. After Warren County senior Zach Beckner pinned Talon Keel in the first period at 126 to give the Wildcats a 33-9 lead, Skyline senior Anthony Robledo (132) topped Bobby Hunger 7-5 in overtime and Brandon Doffermire (138) held off Nick Herring for a 3-0 decision that cut the Wildcats’ lead to 33-15 with four bouts remaining.

“I couldn’t be prouder of my guys,” Matt Keel said. “That’s the first time all year that 14 guys went out and nobody quit. Not one of my guys quit. We’ve been working on that.”

Warren County sophomore Connor Jost clinched the Wildcats’ win with a 7-2 decision over Jacob Grady at 145 pounds, the first of four straight Warren County victories to close out the match. Wyatt Gill (152) beat Tyrelle Robinson 8-6, Michael White (160) topped Alden Murphy 13-9 and Seth Jacobs (170) pinned Asher Ammons in 1:44.

“I think our kids wrestled well,” Wadas said. “Even in our losses, our one freshman hit a senior and our other freshman hit a junior and both went into overtime. You can’t ask anymore than that. Obviously you want to win but that experience is invaluable.”

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

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