Rams win third straight wrestling title
QUICKSBURG – Strasburg senior Christian Plaugher was in quite the predicament leading up to Thursday’s Shenandoah County wrestling meet at Stonewall Jackson High School.
Recent lineup shuffling by the Rams had pushed Plaugher out of his usual 152-pound slot ahead of this past weekend’s Bull Run District tournament – where he wrestled at 170 pounds – and a recent wrestle-off between teammates Corie Baker and Javian Moore resulted in a logjam from 152 to 170 pounds. With those three weight classes filled heading into Thursday’s county duals against Stonewall and Central, Plaugher had no choice but to bump up to the 182-pound spot in Strasburg’s lineup if he wanted to see mat time.
So Plaugher drank four pounds of water and ate nonstop since he woke up Thursday morning.
“It was bad. I had to gain 8 pounds to get to 182 but I barely made it,” said Plaugher, who added that he weighed in at 162.6 pounds prior to the duals.
Once on the mat, Plaugher took care of business. He was one of two Rams to record two pins at the Shenandoah County meet, alongside 220-pounder Josh Pritchett, as Strasburg rolled to its third straight county championship with blowout wins over Central (64-15) and Stonewall (58-15).
Stonewall, which beat Central 45-21, finished as the county runner-up for the second straight year.
“I’m surprised I did as well because I’m giving up 30 pounds,” said Plaugher, who pinned Central’s Alex Stickles and Stonewall’s Oliver Henry. “I mean I had two good opponents and I came out on top. I felt like I helped my team out a good bit.”
Plaugher was one of nine Rams to go unbeaten on Thursday, as Kyle Sisk (113 pounds), Brandon Swink (120), Austin Cooper (126), Dylan Campbell (138), Ethan Duckworth (160), Moore (170) and Zack Scott (195) accomplished the feat.
Pritchett pinned Central’s Jayden Stafford and Stonewall’s Graciel Tapia each in the first period in his flawless effort.
“Coming out here and wrestling and winning county is a big thing,” Pritchett said. “It’s pretty much coming out here and having bragging rights in the county, so it’s pretty big.”
Scott was the only other Ram to actually wrestle in both of his matches, as he earned a pin against Central and a 7-1 decision against Stonewall’s Jacob Richards. Every other Strasburg wrestler won at least one match via forfeit, and head coach Mike Wood said he was upset Swink and Cooper didn’t get a chance to see some mat time ahead of Saturday’s Conference 35 tournament at Madison County.
“I wish Swink and Cooper could’ve got a match. That bothered me a little bit. I wish they could’ve got something, got some matches,” said Wood, who added that he would’ve liked to have seen a head-to-head matchup between Campbell and Stonewall senior 132-pounder Brandon Garcia at 138.
Instead, Garcia, who joined the Generals in January after transferring from Turner Ashby, remained at his weight and beat Rams senior Eric Reynolds 7-0 to earn his 100th career high school victory.
“I’ve been working on it for a couple years,” said Garcia, who was honored on senior night alongside Tapia and Dustin Thomas before Stonewall’s match with the Rams. “(I’ve) taken a lot of time off with injuries and stuff so I didn’t think I’d ever even hit it, but it’s awesome that I did.”
Garcia was one of two Generals to go unbeaten in the county meet. He officially earned his 101st win by forfeit against Central but he did beat Falcons 138-pounder Tyler Hedrick by tech fall, 17-1, in an exhibition bout.
Stonewall junior Matt Oczkowski also finished 2-0 in the meet with two pins.
“We had a lot of tough guys out there tonight,” Oczkowski said. “The first guy I faced tonight (Strasburg’s Ben Rodriguez) was pretty good. I thought he had me.”
Oczkowski fell behind 10-0 to Rodriguez before he rallied to earn a third-period pin in his first match of the night, and he briefly trailed Central’s A.J. Crider in his final bout before locking in another pin in the third period.
“Matt, he fought through and surprised me – not surprised me, but he finally did what I know he can,” Stonewall coach Jerry Franklin said. “I know he’s there but sometimes it just ain’t happening for him this year, but he finally did something this time.”
Although Central went 0-2 in the meet, the Falcons did have three wrestlers finish with perfect records: Jacob Scibelli (106), Daniel George (152) and Corwin Gonzalez (285).
George finished the evening with two pins, both of which came in the third period against Baker and Stonewall’s Caleb Fauver.
“There was some good people but I realized both times that I really had to stay in there,” George said. “It’s not like where you’re wrestling an average novice – these are really good people and it was really good competition, so I feel blessed that it was that way.”
Gonzalez, like Scibelli, earned one of his victories via forfeit, but he did pick up a win by decision over Stonewall’s Dakota Bush in one of the most competitive bouts of the evening. Bush held a 3-1 lead over George before the Central senior scored a reverse and two back points in the final five seconds of the third period to pull out the 5-3 win.
“You look at my size and you look at that kid’s size, it’s obviously a huge difference,” Gonzalez said. “But I mean I was thinking bigger guys like him, they’re not too well with their weight and I know that if he messes up just slightly I can roll through. I was just winging it really. I mean I knew what I was doing but for the most part if it’s a bigger guy I’m just gonna try to wing it through. And it worked.”
Scibelli beat Strasburg’s Austin Stickles 4-0 and pinned Stonewall 113-pounder Joshua Gibson in an exhibition match.
Central will join Strasburg in Saturday’s Conference 35 tournament, while Stonewall will not wrestle again until the Region 1A East tournament at Northampton in next weekend.
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or email@example.com