Blue Ridge 'Rasslin looks rugged

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No clear dominant team

By Mike Forster

  You think the Republicans are having a hard time picking a presidential candidate?

Try making sense of the Blue Ridge wrestling scene.

Staunton River, which has grown to prominence in the sport, seems to be just another entry.  This, in spite of the fact that the Eagles appear as loaded as they ever have.

Four of the Blue Ridge teams showed up at the Eagles' Nest last Wednesday evening.

When all was over, it appeared that Northside was the best dual meet squad.  The Vikings topped both Alleghany and Staunton River.

The Vikes beat Alleghany in fairly convincing fashion, taking 11 of the 14 bouts.  But, the Northsiders had a donnybrook on their hands when they faced Staunton River.  The Vikes prevailed, to the tune of 42-33.

Staunton River beat Rockbridge in earlier action, 48-33 and the Rockies beat Alleghany, 39-36.

William Byrd and Lord Botetourt, the other members of the Blue Ridge, missed out on the fun.  But, don't worry:  The Terriers and Cavs will bring plenty to the mix.

What's it all mean?  Most likely, we'll be treated to a photo-finish when it comes to districts.  But, that's what fans of Blue Ridge grapplin' have come to expect.

Certainly, the Golden Eagles of Staunton River will have as good a shot as anyone.  For starters, they are the defending Blue Ridge champions.

Add to that, the strength that the team has.  Against strong crews from Rockbridge and Northside, Head Coach Ronnie Long saw four of his wrestlers go unbeaten:  Jacob Thompson (113 pounds), Anthony Rezzonico (126), Quannie Blake (138) and Chris Tyree (160).

In what has become de rigueur, River seems strongest in the lighter and the middle weights.  

Certainly Tyree, who was State runner-up last year brings high expectations to his junior season.  He spent less than two minutes, total, on the mats in getting his pair of pins Wednesday night.

Rezzonico is an old war horse, himself.  We would expect him to vie at the state level this year.

The Eagles do have a hole at 106 pounds, which may come back to haunt them.  After that, though, they have a nice stretch of wrestlers:  some old faces and some new.

Thompson is wiry, scrappy and mean.  Cory Nichols returns from JF to take over at 120 in his senior campaign.  

Blake reminds us of a slightly heavier version of Will Epperly, a standout for Staunton River last decade.  Blake has the same stealth and toughness.

Mycheal Smith, at 152, has shown flashes of brilliance, including his win (by fall) over Rockbridge's Judah Bruce, who is ranked seventh in the state.

Forest Walters, who picked up a quick first round pick over Rockbridge, has shown a strong upside.

Additionally, Calvin Martin, who was on the short end of a 9-5 loss to state-ranked Quinten Youngblood (170 pounds) has good strength and quickness.

Martin and Tyree may be swapping weight classes for the long haul, by the way.


River and Forest fare well at Cave Spring

The Eagles didn't have long to mull over their Blue Ridge situation.  That's because they were off to Cave Spring this weekend.  Along with Jefferson Forest, Staunton River participated in what has to be the best-named wrestling tournament of all time:  The Knights of Round Table tourney.

Three local grapplers took top honors:  JF's Bret Romanzak was the 106 champion while fellow Cav Josh Bowyer was top dog at 160.  Staunton River's Chris Tyree, who has moved up a weight class, took top honors at 170, beating JF's Alex Cox in the final bout at that weight.

Romanzak, Bowyer and Cox helped guide their team to a fourth-place finish.  Patrick Henry took the team title, with 205.5 points.  LCA was second, at 195.5, and the host Knights were third, at 188.  JF (175.5) and Staunton River (155) rounded out the top five in team standings.

The 17-team field included only one other Region III crew (Alleghany).  So, while it was good experience, the tourney did little to clarify the chances that Forest or River might have when it comes to post-season activities.

By the way, some other locals did well at the Round Table.  River's Jacob Thompson (113 pounds) and Anthony Rezzonico (126) each picked up a third-place finish, as did JF's Caleb Prather (145) and Forest Speake (152).  Rezzonico's consolation round win came over JF's Peyton Woodall, in a 10-9 stomach churner.

Speake took care of River's Mycheal Smith, with a second-round pin, for his third-place finish.  

Merritt Pino (120) joined teammate Smith as a fourth-place finisher.  

Quannie Blake (138) and Forrest Walters (145) each earned a fifth-place spot from Staunton River.