Four Rams win regional wrestling titles

FISHERSVILLE – Two weeks ago Strasburg junior Ethan Duckworth was thrilled to have won his first high school wrestling tournament at the Bull Run District competition. He’s stood atop the podium twice more since then.

Duckworth continued his strong postseason push in Saturday’s Region 2A East tournament at Wilson Memorial High School, as he captured the 160-pound title. He was one of four Rams to leave Fishersville a champion, as juniors Kyle Sisk (113 pounds) and Dylan Campbell (138) defended their regional crowns while Josh Pritchett (220) claimed his first championship in a regional tournament.

“I’ve really just been stepping it up in the practice room and everything,” Duckworth said. “Keeping my weight down, just really stepping it up and working towards getting to states.”

Duckworth punched his ticket to this weekend’s Group 2A state tournament at Salem Civic Center, scheduled for Friday and Saturday, as did six of his Ram teammates. In addition to the Rams’ four regional champs, second-place finishers Brandon Swink (120) and Austin Cooper (126) will make the trip to Salem, as will senior Ben Rodriguez after placing third at 145 pounds. The top four individuals in each weight class advanced.

Strasburg (183.5 points) as a team finished second behind Bull Run District/Conference 35 rival Clarke County (204). Both teams sent six wrestlers into the championship finals and finished with four regional champions.

“Hat’s off to Clarke,” Rams head coach Mike Wood said. “They did a good job to catch us again. We beat them all year long and then we have a hard time getting them at the end because we’re a couple mid-range wrestlers short of point scorers.”

Duckworth, who began the two-day tournament with two pins and a tech fall to reach the finals, built a 6-2 lead over R.E. Lee’s Banner Robson in the first period, including a slamming takedown in the final seconds that left Robson clutching his right shoulder. Duckworth then got a pin in the second period with 1:14 showing on the clock.

“After I saw that he was down I knew he wasn’t gonna come back as hard as he was in the beginning,” Duckworth said. “I didn’t know I was gonna win but I knew he just wasn’t gonna come as aggressive as he was.”

Pritchett faced a familiar foe in Joseph Manuel from district/conference foe Madison County in the 220-pound final and methodically built an insurmountable lead en route to a 14-4 major decision.

“It’s weird to wrestle (Manuel) because he knows all my moves and everything because I’ve wrestled him about five or six times this year,” said Pritchett, who had two pins in the tournament. “He knows everything I’m gonna do so I’ve gotta have perfect technique, I’ve gotta have perfect everything against him.”

Most importantly for Pritchett, he locked up one of the two No. 1 seeds in the 220-pound class for his first state tournament appearance.

“It’s going to be an easier road at states,” Pritchett said.

Sisk, last year’s 106-pound regional champion, got things rolling for Strasburg with a 13-0 major decision over Clarke County freshman Dawson Parrott. Sisk, who scored 9 back points during the bout, shook his head in frustration several times after failing to pin Parrott like he did in last week’s Conference 35 tournament.

“I was working on top a lot trying to make him move,” said Sisk, who had two pins to reach the finals. “He wasn’t doing much on bottom so I had to work around that. I was getting frustrated with myself but the only thing you can control is what you do, not what anyone else does.”

Campbell, last year’s state runner-up at 126 pounds, became Strasburg’s second regional champion on Saturday when he pulled out a tight 4-2 win over Clarke County senior Jaxon Ottobre in the 138-pound bout, his third victory over Ottobre in as many weeks.

Campbell said he was proud to defend his regional crown, particularly during a time when Strasburg’s athletic department is in turmoil as the result of an investigation into an alleged incident of physical misconduct among some of the school’s boys basketball players.

“It’s always big to defend your title, especially for Strasburg too in tough times,” said Campbell, who had two pins in the tournament.

“It’s a different match every time (against Ottobre),” he added. “He’s always aggressive but I usually just shut that down.”

Swink lost a 2-1 decision to Arcadia’s Tahre Pettite in the 120-pound championship, while Cooper, last year’s 113-pound state champ, lost 13-4 to Clarke County’s Bayne Gordon, the two-time 120-pound state champion.

Central will send two wrestlers to the Group 2A state meet, as freshman Jacob Scibelli placed fourth at 106 pounds, while senior Corwin Gonzalez placed fourth in the heavyweight class. Both are in their first full year of high school wrestling.

Falcons senior Colton Lecraw, a state qualifier last season, did not wrestle in the regional tournament due to injury, head coach Michael Sanders said.

“(Gonzalez) had the best shot to go on and then Scibelli was kind of on the outside looking in, he had to win a match that he didn’t win earlier this year,” Sanders said. “He came in and he did that.

“With Corwin, he knew it was his last and his only shot to make it there and Jacob, he has three more years, so hopefully it’s only a taste of many more times to come.”

The Region 2A East tournament was originally scheduled to be held at Strasburg, but Wood said he was told by the school’s administration two weeks ago that the event would be moved due to circumstances stemming from the investigation into the school’s boys basketball program.

Wood said he was “bothered” by the relocation of the tournament, which was also to serve as the Rams’ senior night before it was moved to Wilson.

“I know what’s going on at the school but I think we really got unfairly moved here, even though Wilson did a great job of running it,” Wood said. “… Us at home, sleep in our own beds, they’re comfortable with more fans – we may get a couple more kids through (to the state tournament). And that’s always a true thing. So I’m a little bit upset about that, that we got uprooted out of there after having it for about eight years or something.”

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