Wildcats win Class 3 Nortwestern District wrestling championship
BEALETON – Warren County High School’s run of dominance continued on the wrestling mat at the Class 3 Northwestern District tournament on Saturday.
The Wildcats, who piled up the team titles during the regular season, added more hardware to their trophy case by claiming the top spot among six teams at the district championships at Liberty High School. Warren County racked up 238 points to easily outpace runner-up Brentsville by 73.5 points, sent 10 of its 14 wrestlers into the championship finals and ended the evening with six individual title winners.
Saturday’s championship marked the second straight district/conference title for Warren County, which won the Conference 28 tournament last season against the same field that included current Class 3 Northwestern District schools Brentsville, Culpeper County, Manassas Park, Skyline and William Monroe.
“It’s always cool to win the individual (championships) but I love it when we win team stuff because it just shows how great we are as a team,” said Wildcats junior Bobby Hunger, the district’s 138-pound champ. “You see on a lot of teams there’s like one stud kid, we have like four, five, six of those kids on our team.”
Junior 132-pounder Hunter Jost got things started for Warren County in the championship round when he opened up an 11-1 lead over Brentsville’s Collin Brady and cruised to an 11-4 decision.
Hunger followed with a pin in 1:08 of Brentsville’s Jake Johnson for the 138 title, and Wildcats senior Connor Jost made it three in a row over the Tigers in the finals with a thrilling 10-8 decision over Yuri Smaltz at 145.
Connor Jost, who’d lost to Smaltz in a dual match several weeks ago, trailed the Brentsville sophomore 8-6 late in the third period of Saturday’s championship bout but tied the match with a reversal as both wrestlers went out of bounds with nine seconds remaining. Off a restart, Jost was nearly put on his back by Smaltz’s own reversal attempt during a wild sequence that ended when Jost recovered to put Smaltz on his back for the winning near-fall points as time expired.
“This one felt good for me because this is the kid I lost to at senior night, when he banged my head on the gym floor and I couldn’t recover from it and he beat me. It felt good to come back, holding that grudge, and get the win,” said Connor Jost, adding that his composure at the end of the match allowed him to earn the win.
“My leg slipped out from under the crab ride and it was either all or nothing. If you’re not first, you’re last, so I locked up and hoped for the best and it worked out in my favor.”
Wildcats senior Wyatt Gill – who, along with classmate D.J. Almarode, had been sidelined since Wednesday due to illness – built a 5-0 lead over Skyline’s Jacob Grady in the first period and held on for a 5-3 victory for the 185 title. Gill, who called Grady an “outstanding wrestler,” had pinned the Skyline junior in the first period during the last week’s dual between the cross-town rivals.
Almarode followed with a pin in 1:12 of Manassas Park’s Steven Carado to win the 195-pound championship, and senior Nathan Johnson picked up Warren County’s final individual title of the evening when he pinned Culpeper’s Robert Streightiff in 1:59 of the 220-pound bout.
Skyline’s lone individual district champion was freshman Tyler Davis, who pinned Manassas Park’s Farzan Farooqui with 39 seconds left in the second period in his high school postseason debut.
“He was real tall,” Davis said of Farooqui, “which means his stance wasn’t that low, so my shots would work pretty well. I chose bottom in the second because I need to get better on bottom. I knew he threw legs so I thought he was gonna throw legs. I need to get better at defending legs and cradles, too, which he almost got me with a cradle but I defended it well and got out, reversed it and stuck him.”
Warren County came up empty on its first championship bout of the evening when sophomore Dylan Becker lost a major decision, 17-7, at 120 pounds to Brentsville’s John Carayiannis, last season’s VHSL Group 3A state runner-up at 113 pounds.
The Wildcats’ undersized 152-pounder Isaiah Frame overcame a 9-2 deficit to Manassas Park’s Dell Hankins before losing the title bout 14-9 in sudden-victory overtime, Nic Herring was pinned by Brentsville’s Alex Whitley in the third period at 160 pounds and the Tigers’ Grant Abernethy pinned Warren County’s Andrew Johnson in the first round of their heavyweight championship bout to end the night.
“I think the big thing I saw is that we have technique to wrestle with anybody,” Wildcats head coach Matt Wadas said, “so it’s gonna come down to the pace we wrestle and our conditioning. We need to be the best-conditioned team in the third period, and I don’t think we’re there yet. But the season isn’t over. We’ve got time to work that.”
Skyline, which also got a third-place finish from Wyatt Spiker (138), placed fifth out of the six Class 3 Northwestern District schools with 67.5 points.
Results from the district tournament had no impact on qualification for the Region 3B tournament scheduled for Saturday at Spotsylvania.