Stonewall wrestlers returning to full strength, pick up a win in home quad
QUICKSBURG – Stonewall Jackson High School’s wrestling team has been battling injuries and sickness over the last several weeks, but a few Generals said they felt the team was trending back in the right direction following their home quad Wednesday evening.
In what will be their only home competition of the winter season, the Generals finished 1-2 in the four-team field that included Broadway, Waynesboro and fellow Shenandoah District member Buffalo Gap. More importantly, Stonewall’s first matches of the new year marked the return of a couple of wrestlers.
“The injuries are being a pain. We’re working our way back, though,” said Generals senior Matt Oczkowski, who had three pins at 145 pounds and was one of two Stonewall wrestlers to go 3-0 on Wednesday. “I mean we’ve come a long way. We beat one team and almost beat another one. We had a couple more guys that got hurt and stuff, if they were here we’d have beaten them – had a chance, anyway.”
Stonewall’s lone victory of the night came in a 36-34 win over Broadway during the meet’s second round of duals. The Generals also fell to Waynesboro, 42-24, and to Buffalo Gap, 36-31. Waynesboro ended the night 2-0 as the quad’s only unbeaten (the Little Giants didn’t wrestle fellow Valley District member Broadway).
Following their loss to Waynesboro to start the evening, the Generals rebounded against Broadway. A Gobblers forfeit at 113 pounds began the match, and Stonewall held a slim 12-10 lead before Oczkowski picked apart sophomore Blake Phillips en route to a third-period pin to stretch the advantage to eight.
Stonewall junior Caleb Fauver, typically the Generals’ 152-pounder, pinned Chris Madonna at 160 pounds to extend the lead to 24-10. A Broadway pin at 182 and a string of forfeits cut the Generals’ lead to 30-28 but junior heavyweight Dakota Bush sealed Stonewall’s victory by pinning Gobblers junior Joshua Holloway in 1:41 in the 285-pound bout.
Wednesday marked the official season debut for Bush – a sixth-place finisher at the Virginia High School League Group 1A state meet last season – as he spent the first month of the season trying to cut weight after beginning the year at 320 pounds.
“I love doing it,” Bush said of his match-clinching pin, “because me not wrestling those couple weeks killed the team because we could’ve won a lot more. It’s just great to help the team.”
Bush ended Wednesday a perfect 3-0 with two first-period pins and an 8-3 decision over Buffalo Gap’s Wesley Tinsley, a welcome sight for Generals head coach Jerry Franklin.
“We’ve done lost three matches this year all because he didn’t make weight and now he’s finally back,” Franklin said. “I mean if he pins a kid that’s a 12-point swing, so that helps us out in the long run. Just a couple of the other ones … being injured and not being here, that kills us sometimes.”
One such absence, at the 170-pound spot typically filled by sophomore Udreka Claude, hurt the Generals in their final match of the evening. Claude was out of town Wednesday. Stonewall had to forfeit the 170-pound bout to Gap, giving a free six points to the Bison in a match that was decided by five.
In one of the more thrilling individual matchups of the evening, Stonewall freshman Damian Tapia emerged the victor over Gap’s Kevin Roadcap at 120 pounds to begin the final match of the night. A flurry of reversals ended the first period that found Tapia trailing 10-9, and the second period began with a Roadcap reversal before Tapia countered with another of his own that culminated in his second-period pin.
Oczkowski (17-4 this season) pinned Buffalo Gap’s LeighAnn Landrum in the second period to end his perfect night and Fauver, again bumping up to 160, earned a 9-0 major decision over Jadden Penrod to finish the evening 2-1.
“It’s just good to be able to bump up and still win, know what I mean,” said Fauver, who was pinned by Waynesboro’s Kerry Showalter in his only bout at his natural 152-pound class on Wednesday. “Usually guys bump up and the guys are way too heavy for them and they don’t usually do as well. But, I mean, it’s all in my hips for me. The guys have strength and size on me but I’ve just gotta be more technical and I’ve gotta have better hips.”
Tapia added a win via forfeit in the quad, and Annabella Funkhouser (113) and Oliver Henry (195) each picked up two forfeit victories for the Generals.
Stonewall Jackson returns to the mat next Thursday for a Shenandoah District tournament at Riverheads High School as teams begin closing in on the postseason.
“I’ve got a couple of them, I think, that could possibly make some noise in state,” Franklin said. “Some of them are still young. I’ve got a lot of young ones. Some of them you wouldn’t say are as young as much as they are green, inexperienced.”
Contact staff writer Brad Fauber at 540-465-5137 ext. 161, or firstname.lastname@example.org