STEPHENS CITY – Sherando’s wrestling team can put aside any aspirations for winning a team trophy at today’s Region 4C tournament at Heritage High School in Leesburg.
With only five individuals competing in the event, that simply isn’t going to happen. But what the Warriors can and will focus on, first-year head coach Brian Kibler said on Thursday, is getting the most out of each of those wrestlers and performing as well as they possibly can.
“It’s just as simple as that,” Kibler said. “Obviously with five guys we’re probably not gonna be chasing much of a team title by any stretch of the imagination. But what you can do is win and place as high as you can with all the guys you got, and that’s kind of been our approach this week.”
If things go well at the 14-team regional tournament – from which the top four individuals in each weight class advance to next weekend’s Class 4 state tournament, which starts at Riverside High next Friday and concludes Saturday at James Robinson alongside Class 5 and 6 – Sherando could still bring home some gold this weekend.
Three Warriors – senior Timmy Dieter (132 pounds), sophomore Heath Rudolph (145) and junior Caleb McLee (220) – won Class 4 Northwestern District titles last weekend, and sophomore DeShawn Lee (285) took second place. Brian Jimenez (170) placed fourth in the district to round out Sherando’s regional qualifiers.
Kibler said he considers the Northwestern District to be the stronger half of Region 4C (the seven-team Dulles District makes up the other half), meaning Sherando’s wrestlers – particularly those that reached the district championship round – are in a good position to contend for regional gold medals.
“Those guys that were in the (district) finals, if they believe in themselves and they believe in what they’re doing as far as in the room and training and stuff, they’ll be just fine,” Kibler said. “Anytime you’re the best in the weight class that has the tougher district, things usually look pretty good for you at the region, so we’ve just gotta kind of follow through with that. Ideally, yeah, we push all those guys into positions where they can put themselves up for good seeding the following week.”
Dieter’s district title last weekend was his first postseason tournament win in his high school career, and he enters his final regional tournament with a record of 40-2 with 28 pins this season.
A two-time state tournament place-winner who finished third in Class 4 last season, Dieter used a late takedown in last weekend’s district finals to beat Liberty junior Bryan Contreras, who sits on the same side of the eight-man 132-pound regional bracket as Loudoun County sophomore Andrew Judd, the Dulles District champ.
Dieter reached the 132-pound regional championship finals in 2018 but had to settle for silver.
“He’s probably a little bit more physical this week when I jump in there and wrestle him, than he had been probably the weeks in January when I’d jump in there,” Kibler said of Dieter’s approach to his final high school postseason. “He seems a little bit more with it. But obviously when you’re a senior, and you’ve put a lot into it, he recognizes now’s the time to pour it on, now’s the time to make sure that I don’t let myself slide in my training. So he’s putting it on the line, and last week really too, and he’s brought Heath right along with him.”
Rudolph, who won a match at the state tournament last season as a freshman 126-pounder, placed third in the Region 4C tournament in 2018. He enters today’s regional competition 39-9 with 19 pins this season after topping Fauquier sophomore Eric DeWald, 16-7, in the district finals.
McLee, a first-year wrestler, takes a 25-17 record into the regional tournament, and Lee (33-13) is undoubtedly hoping for a better result than his Region 4C tournament debut last season when he lost each of his first two bouts and was eliminated.
Last season Sherando qualified five wrestlers for the state tournament, and Dieter and Rudolph are the only returnees from that group.
“Who knows?” Kibler replied when asked if Sherando could qualify all five of its regional wrestlers for next week’s Class 4 tournament. “Like I said, it seems like the tougher side is our side, so who knows. Especially those guys that pushed through to the finals, it depends upon their weight classes and where they have some tough kids, but for the most part, the tougher kids are on our side. And we’ve kind of said that we’ve laid it out there for our guys, like ‘listen, this is what it is. You’ve put yourself in a position; we’re out of the tougher side.’”
Fauquier edged Liberty by 2 points to win the Class 4 Northwestern District title last weekend, and Kibler said he considers those two teams to be the biggest contenders for this season’s Region 4C crown.