Strasburg trio wins titles in Region 2B wrestling tournament

Chase Hart

STUARTS DRAFT — Strasburg only had 10 wrestlers in the Region 2B Wrestling Championships on Saturday, but showed its quality, not quantity that counts.

The Rams had six wrestlers make the finals and finished second as a team.

“We’re going to be regional runner-ups with 10 guys, so I can’t be too disappointed there,” Strasburg coach Mike Wood said. “We bring 10 and we put six in the finals. The other four down below — two were basically first-year wrestlers and the other two were freshman.”

Strasburg’s Peyton Stickles (120 pounds), Jalen Burks (126) and Chase Hart (170) won regional titles, while teammates Austin Stickles (106), Alec Campbell (145) and Javian Moore (182) were regional runners-up.

The top three in each weight class advance to this weekend’s Class 2 State Wrestling Championships held in Salem. Strasburg had the six regional finalists advance and Central had one wrestler advance — William Ball (170). Ball finished third in the region.

Peyton Stickles Rich Cooley/Daily

Wilson Memorial won the team title with 231 points, followed by Strasburg (162) and Clarke County (143). Central finished ninth with 49 points.

Hart continues to peak at the right time for the Rams. The sophomore won the Bull Run District title last week and added a regional title on Saturday by pinning Wilson Memorial’s Michael Holmes in the final in one minute and three seconds.

Hart said he used a move that he hasn’t used all season and it worked for the pin.

“It was a front headlock to head in the hole cradle,” Hart said. “It’s the first time I’ve done it all year. I usually don’t find myself in the front headlock position.”

Hart said he didn’t have a lot of expectations coming into the tournament.

Jaylon Burks Rich Cooley/Daily

“My dad was telling me ‘you could win this thing. You could win this thing,'” Hart said. “And I was just like saying to myself ‘probably not, but hopefully I place top 3 and make it to states.’ But I exceeded my expeectations for sure.”

Peyton Stickles saw a familiar face across from him in the 120-pound final — Clarke County’s Jack Smith. It was the third time the two faced each other this season.

Peyton Stickles won the previous two meetings, by 1 point and by 6 points. In the regional final, Peyton Stickles started off strong and built a 7-1 lead, but Smith slowly chipped away at the lead.

Early in the third period, Smith cut the lead to 9-8, before Peyton Stickles pulled away in the final 30 seconds for an 11-8 victory.

“Last time it was a 6-point match, but he must have improved on a lot of stuff and made it a really close match again,” Peyton Stickles said.

Peyton Stickles, a sophomore, now sets his sights on next week’s state meet. Last year he finished second and said that is a big motivator for him.

“I know the feeling of getting second — it’s not the best,” Peyton Stickles said. “And I want to get first place.”

Burks, a freshman, beat East Rockingham’s Dalton Shifflett, 12-3, in the 126-pound final.

“To me being a freshman and finally coming in and doing my thing — it feels great,” Burks said.

Wood said he was very happy for and impressed by Burks.

“Jalen, he’s not fancy, but he just keeps plugging, plugging, plugging away,” Wood said. “So for a freshman to win districts, win regions, to get to states in any way shape or form as a freshman is a great bonus. It’s always nice to have a freshman or two make it.”

Strasburg’s Austin Stickles fell, 9-0, to Wilson Memorial’s Cadlee Jarvis in the 1-6-pound final.

Austin Stickles, a junior, has qualified for the golf state tournament two of the last three years and now will be experiencing the state meet in wrestling as well.

“Since I’m a junior and it being my first time at states, I think it’s kind of exciting,” Austin Stickles said. “It will be a new experience for me. And hopefully it will be just like golf.”

Campbell was pinned by George Mason’s Jack Felger in three minutes and 12 seconds in the 145-pound final.

Moore lost to Buffalo Gap’s Ryan Benitez, 5-0, in the 182-pound final.

Moore said shortly after the match began he wasn’t feeling well, but he said he was still very happy to qualify for the state tournament.

“I’m really happy to be going to states, especially placing second at regions,” Moore said. “I’m not seeded too low (for the state tournament). So it gives me a good shot to do what I need to do.”

Ball defeated Buffalo Gap’s Jaden Penrod, 2-1, in the 170-pound third-place match to qualify for the state tournament.

Central coach Greg Stickles said he was very happy for Ball.

“I expected him to make it to states,” Greg Stickles said. “He’s been a very consistent wrestler all year long. Hopefully he picks up what he needs to for next week and he’s very successful next week.”

The Falcons had seven wrestlers in the regional meet, but only one senior. Greg Stickles said he hopes that his team learned some valuable lessons on Saturday.

“It was a good learning experience and very humbling for some of them that made it to states last year, but didn’t make it this year,” Greg Stickles said. “Now they know they can’t rest on last year’s accomplishments. They’ve always got to work hard and keep moving forward.”