FRONT ROYAL — The Skyline Hawks knew coming into this season they had a good wrestling team that was capable of doing great things by the end of the year.
If Saturday’s showing in the Appalachian Duals is any indication, then Hawks are well ahead of schedule.
The Hawks, after a dominating performance at last week’s Northwestern District tournament, destroyed the field at the Appalachian Duals event, winning all seven of their matches by lopsided margins.
The Hawks allowed just 56 points to be scored upon them the entire tournament. Only once did the Hawks score fewer than 56 points in any of their wins, a 54-19 win over over Lake Braddock in what would be Skyline’s closest match of the weekend.
The Hawks opened the two-day tournament on Friday with three wins by scores of 81-0, 69-7 and 75-6.
On Saturday morning the Hawks picked right up where they left off on Friday with an 84-0 shellacking over Riverside.
Next was the win over Lake Braddock.
In what proved to be the championship match of the event, Skyline easily handled Patrick Henry of Ashland with a 60-18 victory.
The Hawks have looked so dominant in the early going this season that they have adjusted some of their preseason goals.
“When we started the season our goal was a top three finish in the state,” senior Ethan Gue said. “We just changed that – it’s now to win the state title. That would make us the first team around here to do that.”
To date, the Warren County Wildcats second-place finish in the Class 3 championship in 2018 is the best-ever by a Front Royal team.
It will be a stern challenge for the Hawks to knock off defending champion New Kent — a team with several nationally ranked sophomores sprinkled throughout their lineup — and perennial power Christiansburg. But no one can blame the Hawks for their heart, fearlessness and confidence.
“If we continue like this, we should be pretty good by the end of the year,” Skyline second-year coach Kyle Symons said. “It’s a great atmosphere in the room, everyone pushes each other. There is good competition and cohesion. There are no cliques. Just great chemistry and that leads to team success.”
The Hawks are a blend of experienced veterans with state medal cred and youthful grapplers that are producing like future stars.
The sophomore and juniors in between have improved dramatically in the off-season, making the Hawks tough from the bottom to the top of their lineup.
“We have five or six seniors, guys all up and down our lineup, and three freshmen in our lineup that are studs,” senior Brandon Ahlemann said. “They have exceeded everyone’s expectations. The sophomores and juniors have been in the room everyday and they are getting better and it’s making a difference.”
Senior Morgan Robinson agreed. “The first day of the [practice] everyone was super. I was thinking, where did they learn how to do that.”
No Hawks wrestler lost more than two matches during the Appalachian Duals.
Six Skyline wrestlers went undefeated with perfect 7-0 records.
The only time Skyline was behind the entire weekend came in the final match against Patrick Henry.
Starting at 145-pounds, Chauncey Wilson of Patrick Henry picked up a pin over Skyline’s Brayden Williams to give the Patriots a 6-0 lead.
It didn’t last long however.
In the 152-pound match, senior Anthony Domino (a state medalist from a year ago) quickly tied the match up with a pin in 1:05 over Patrick Ramsey.
Although it didn’t come easy. Ramsey surprised Domino with an early takedown and a 4-0 lead.
But after Domino quickly escaped, he finished off his opponent in matter of seconds.
“I made a mistake,” Domino said. “I lost my balance, but after I escaped, I decided to finish the match there.
“You definitely can get complacent and give up easy points.”
But that is something that Symons said the Hawks made a point of emphasis this year, and so far, it’s paid off for Skyline.
“This year we are staying focused,” Symons said. “Our team goals was to limit the damage in matches that we were outclassed in and a lot of guys have stepped up from last year. Everyone is better.”
After receiving a forfeit at 160, the Hawks led 12-6 to set up a spirited match at 170 between Skyline freshman Dustin Gue and the Patriots Ryan Foutz.
The back-and-forth match eventually turned Gue’s way with a pin at the 4:16 mark to give the Hawks an 18-6 lead.
After a close 6-5 defeat at 195, first-year wrestler Doug Cummings continued his surprising success this season at 220.
Cummings, the kicker for the Hawks football team, was taken down early in the match against the Patriots John-Paul Prusakowksi, but Cummings muscled up and flipped his Patrick Henry opponent onto his back to earn a pin at :28 seconds into the tilt.
“Stuff like that really helps us,” Robinson said. “It picks us up. We want to win every battle and we all support our teammates.”
Ethan Gue quickly earned a pin at :26 seconds in the heavyweight match to give the Hawks a 30-15 lead.
Heading into the meat of their lineup the Hawks talented freshman duo of Hunter Solomon (106) and Phoenix Alyea earned back-to-back pins to give Skyline an insurmountable 42-15 lead.
Seniors Brandon Ahlemann (132) and Robinson (138) later finished off the Patriots with pins.
“We wanted to go out there and win every match that we should,” Ahlemann said, “and I think that we did.”
The Hawks average margin of victory in their seven matches for the tournament was 71-8.
“We wrestled really well from top to bottom,” Symons said. “We were picking up pins at a high rate and not giving them up.”
Going undefeated for the Hawks with 7-0 records were; Solomon, Alyea, Ahlemann, Robinson, Anthony Domino, Dustin Gue and Ethan Gue.
Going 6-1 for the Hawks were Josh Domino (120) and Tyler Davis (126)
Finishing 5-2 were Williams, Alex Sotelo (182), Chris Moin (195) and Cummings.
Wyatt Spiker went 4-1 at 160 and Peyton Carter logged a 1-1 mark at 160.
The competition is expected to be stronger this coming weekend as the Hawks will take part in the Woodbridge Invitational.
“This weekend gives us a lot of confidence going into the rest of the season,” Ahlemann said. “Obviously the competition will be picking up, but we know we are one of the best in the state and we want to go out there and prove it.”