Ram wrestlers breeze to county wrestling title

Ethan Duckworth

WOODSTOCK – Strasburg High School has dominated the Shenandoah County wrestling meet in recent years. Even when Rams’ head coach Mike Wood opted to rest four regular starters during the annual event on Wednesday, Central and Stonewall Jackson couldn’t keep pace.

Strasburg, the lone team to field nearly a complete 14-man roster, rumbled to a 65-18 win over Central, who played host to its two rivals, and a 63-16 victory over Stonewall Jackson to win the Shenandoah County title for the fourth straight season.

“Going into the postseason, it’s good for confidence,” Rams’ 182-pounder Ethan Duckworth said. “Picking up these younger guys, pushing them to get (the county title) again next year, to keep working and win it again next year.”

Nine of the 13 Rams who competed on Tuesday night finished 2-0 to earn all-county medals, a list that included Austin Stickles (106 pounds), Peyton Stickles (113), Nathan King (126), Alec Campbell (132), Jeffrey Bingaman (138), Javian Moore (160), Austin Miller (170), Duckworth and Hunter Miller (195).

Duckworth, the lone senior to compete for Strasburg on Wednesday evening, celebrated a little something more than a county title. He picked up his 100th career victory with a first-period pin against Central’s Alec Stickles in the fourth bout of the night.

“It feels great. I’ve been working for this for a long time and to finally get it, it’s good to get it close to home,” said Duckworth, who also pinned Stonewall’s Kyle Bushong in the first period during the meet’s second round.

Duckworth was one of just two Rams to compete in two matches against an actual opponent, and four Strasburg wrestlers won both of their bouts via forfeit against their shorthanded competition.

Peyton Stickles, a freshman, dismantled Central sophomore Jacob Scibelli en route to a 19-2 tech fall in their bout at 113 pounds and pinned Stonewall’s Annabella Funkhouser in 28 seconds.

Strasburg also received a pin each from Austin Stickles and Moore.

“Some of our backup guys got a few matches, which is good. I mean it all helps,” said Wood, whose team, like Central, will compete in the Bull Run District tournament at Warren County High School on Saturday. “Kind of sat four key starters, they’re a little dinged up and it’s hard to cut weight for two forfeits. I wanna give their bodies a little break, too.

“It’s hard to get yourself mentally prepared to wrestle when you know this is what (it is) – and it is what it is. I know teams have a hard time filling weight classes. It’s just hard to get up for it.”

Central and Stonewall Jackson fielded just six and eight wrestlers, respectively, setting the stage for what turned out to be the closest head-to-head matchup in the final dual of the night. The match featured just three true bouts that counted toward team scoring and although the Falcons won two of those three, it was the Generals who earned a 31-30 victory after Criteria H (most first points scored) was used to break a 30-30 tie at the end of the night.

Stonewall’s narrow victory gave the Generals their third consecutive runner-up finish in the county meet.

“It was about what I expected,” Central head coach Michael Sanders said. “I mean I knew we’d have a few tough matches. Some of them went a little opposite of the way I thought, I guess, but overall it about matched what expectations I had coming in here.”

The Generals had three wrestlers go unbeaten in their two matches, including freshman 120-pounder Damian Tapia, senior Matt Oczkowski (145) and junior heavyweight Dakota Bush.

Tapia pinned Strasburg’s Jack Miller in the second period, Oczkowski earned a 10-1 major decision over Rams’ sophomore Makia Sanchez and Bush capped his night with a first-period pin against Falcons sophomore Ezra Smith. Each of the three unbeaten Generals had one win by forfeit.

“They all wrestled good,” Generals head coach Jerry Franklin said. “Damian, he did a nice job coming through and winning and stuff like that. But Strasburg not bringing all their kids, he won tonight, that’s the good thing.”

Central had a pair of 2-0 wrestlers at the end of the night in David Spitler (152), the Falcons’ lone senior, and sophomore 220-pounder Declan Franklin.

Franklin pinned Strasburg’s Austin Summerlin in 4:55 in the first round, while Spitler pinned the Rams’ Greg Mason with 23 seconds remaining in their match. Spitler also beat Oczkowski, 10-7, in an exhibition match.

“David wrestled pretty well,” Sanders said. “I mean there’s a lot of things he’s gotta clean up. He’s been off the mat for a couple weeks now. He’s got some rust on him, and he’s gotta fix that before postseason next week.”

Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or bfauber@nvdaily.com