WARRENTON -- If Warren County’s wrestling team still had any questions about how strong a tournament team it would be this season after a good amount of roster turnover, they were answered this weekend.
The Wildcats, the two-time defending Region 3B champs and the 2018 Class 3 state runner-up, took home the team title at the Northwestern District tournament on Saturday afternoon at Fauquier, topping a 13-team field that featured the Class 3 and Class 4 members of the district.
“It shows that we’re actually a pretty good tournament team,” Warren County senior 145-pounder Bobby Hunger said. “It’s always weird because last year and years before we were always super-solid dual teams but this year really showed that if one kid doesn’t do as good in the tournament, we still have our studs to really pull us ahead and pull us apart. I didn’t really have any expectations coming into the tournament, and I still didn’t know how well we were doing, and then I checked the team scores and I was like ‘whoa, we’re ahead by like 50 points, that’s awesome!’”
Warren County, powered by a pair of individual champions in Hunger and Brennan Komelasky (160 pounds) and five silver medalists, finished the two-day tournament with 206 total points, 30 better than runner-up James Wood. Skyline, which had more individual champs than any other team, placed fifth with 151.5 points, and a short-handed Sherando team was 10th with 73 points.
Hunter Jost (138), Isaiah Frame (152), Patrick Coffron (160), Jacob Wright (170) and Tony Bitter (285) all placed second for the Wildcats. Dylan Becker was third at 132 and Brandon Mason was fourth at 113, giving Warren County nine all-district medalists.
“I’m really proud of this effort,” Wildcats coach Matt Wadas said, “because Liberty, Fauquier, James Wood are probably all top 10, even Millbrook is maybe top 10, in (Class 4). Brentsville definitely, maybe even top 5 in (Class 3). Against the competition, this was big.”
While its cross-town rival enjoyed team-wide success in the tournament, Skyline claimed the most individual titles. Sophomore 113-pounder Tyler Davis, the Class 3 state runner-up at 106 last season, junior Brandon Ahlemann (132), senior Jacob Grady (182) and junior Ethan Gue (220) all won gold at the event.
Junior Morgan Robinson (132) added a third-place finish for the Hawks, and Anthony Domino (152) was fourth to round out Skyline’s list of medalists.
“It felt good for me personally,” Ahlemann said, “and as a team because we match up very well with (Class 3) and (Class 4) kids. We’re competing with just about everybody in the state, so it shows where the team’s kind of grown on a team level and how we can compete with pretty much anybody in the state.”
Davis, who said he still has some “little things” to improve on, got the success rolling for the local wrestlers in the finals when he dominated James Wood’s Vince Caruso, a 2018 Class 4 state qualifier, en route to a 19-4 tech fall for the 113-pound gold.
Ahlemann followed two bouts later with an 8-0 major decision win over Wood’s Josh Arce in another battle of 2018 state qualifiers for the 126-pound title, and Grady won another gold for the Hawks with his 3-0 win over Culpeper County’s George Moseley -- a fellow state qualifier -- in the 182 finals.
Grady, who was shaken up after getting slammed to the mat in the second period, earned two points on a pair of penalties on Moseley -- one for an illegal hold and another for a shove after the whistle as both wrestlers went out-of-bounds -- and an escape point when he was let up at the start of the third period after choosing the bottom position with a 1-0 lead.
“I was just looking for a lot of confidence and it is a confidence builder,” Grady said. “It’s the first step of my regions, states, everything. It’s the first step and I completed it pretty well. I know George is a pretty good wrestler. I’ll probably see him again in region and hopefully state finals.”
Gue, whom Skyline head coach Kyle Symons mentioned first when asked if any Hawks surprised at the district tournament, won his first-ever tournament title with a 4-2 decision over Fauquier’s Thomas Heisler.
Gue, who tallied two pins to reach the 220-pound finals, earned two points on a pair of stalling penalties on Heisler and two more on a pair of escapes in the championship finals. After letting Gue up following a takedown with 1:10 left in the third period, Heisler nearly completed what would’ve been a match-tying takedown but hadn’t gained control as the whistle blew.
“I was trying to win the tournament, obviously,” Gue said. “I was trying to see all the competition there is at (Class 3) and (Class 4), see how well I do with them, see how well I hold up, and I think I accomplished my goal with that.”
Hunger, who had posted three first-period pins on his way to the 145-pound final, beat Millbrook’s Lukas Guerrero -- another Class 4 state qualifier -- by 11-5 decision for Warren County’s first individual gold.
Komelasky, who needed to get through his teammate to do so, won the 160-pound title with a 9-8 win over Coffron. Komelasky trailed 8-1 in the third period before a 5-point sequence ended with Coffron on his back for three near-fall points, and Komelasky won the match at the whistle when Coffron was penalized for locking his hands.
“We’ve wrestled often before,” Komelasky said. “He has beaten me before. He’s my teammate, I respect him, but it does feel nice to get a win. But he is truly good. It honestly could’ve gone either way with that match. I personally would’ve been fine with either outcome."
Four other Wildcats came up empty in their championship matches.
Jost lost a competitive 3-2 decision to Kettle Run’s Alex Smith in the 138 finals, Smith’s takedown early in the third period proving the difference. Frame gave up two back points in the third period in a 2-0 loss to Millbrook’s Daniel VanAmburg at 152, Wright lost by pin to Kettle Run’s Gabe Chumley at 170 and Tony Bitter was pinned by Manassas Park’s Steven Corado for the 285 title.
All four of those Wildcat losses came to Class 4 wrestlers and/or 2018 state qualifiers.
“I think Hunter Jost said it best. Hunter just walked over to me and said ‘I’d rather hit that guy and lose than walk through a tournament and pin my way through it,’” Wadas said. “And I said you’re right, those kind of matches are gonna make you better for when it really counts. I think we were excited about those opportunities too, even the ones we lost.”
Sherando’s lone all-district medalist was Colton Foltz, who took third place at 160 pounds.