Wildcats win home invitational
FRONT ROYAL – Warren County High School’s momentum-charged wrestling team won its own invitational for the first time in three seasons in resounding fashion Saturday, knocking off the rest of the 10-team field by at least 126 points.
The Wildcats, who claimed their second tournament victory of the season along with a team runner-up trophy, scored a total 298 points to 172 for second-place Western Albemarle. Stonewall Jackson was the 10th with 46 points.
“We haven’t won this tournament in three years, and that was a prime motivator for us,” said defending state champion Zach Beckner.
Beckner was one of six ‘Cats to claim an individual championship medal at the Warren County gym.
Beckner, who won here at his 126-pound class, dealt with some dizziness and cold-like symptoms at a recent meet in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania. He had trouble catching his breath after each match, but still dominated.
While he was wrestling his finals match – a major decision (17-4) over another state champion, Bayne Gordon of Clarke County – a wrestler from an opposing team sitting in the bleachers said, “Look at Beckner. He makes everybody look like a scrub.”
Laughing, the 126-pounder said later: “I try to go out there and do my thing. When I wrestle at states, (competitors) know who I am, so I make it my business to know who they are.”
Beckner said he studies tape with his stepfather, former Strasburg mat man Scott Ashley, learning about future opponents.
“I like to study tape, look at who I’m wrestling,” he said. “Some people don’t think that’s a good idea, but I think it helps.”
Beckner was selected as the Warren Invitational “Outstanding Wrestler.”
Joining Beckner on the champion’s stand were Raphael Souza at 106, Michael White at 180, Jacob Schnieder at 182, D.J. Almarode at 220 and Nathan Johnson at 285.
While some teams were wrestling short, Warren had good depth. Occasionally it would go to a member of the junior varsity team to win. Souza, for instance, is just a freshman. This was his first victory on the varsity.
“It’s exciting,” he said.
While some of the Warren wrestlers are looking for college careers, Schneider uses the winter sport to train for the U.S. Marines. Upon graduation he is expected to go to Parris Island, South Carolina.
“The Marines have always been my dream, so I’m using wrestling to get into shape,” he said.
“The last three years Marshall, James Wood and Skyline have won the tournament, so it’s good to bring the championship home,” said Warren coach Matt Wadas.
Stonewall Jackson brought nine wrestlers to Warren County, and so could not place a wrestler at each weight division. Still, Jason Richards placed third at 182; Matthew Oczkwski placed sixth in the 138-pound division, Oliver Henry was sixth at 195 and Dakota Bush was similar at 285.