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'Brawled' Lang Syne

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By Mike Forster

While most folks were out buying chicken wings and party favors or locking down their lineup for bowl game viewing, wrestlers from far and wide were putting off their New Year's preparations. Instead, they were at Liberty High School to participate in the Bedford Brawl.

Salem earned top honors for first year coach Randall Sell who, having led the Staunton River program last year, can't seem to stay away from Bedford County. Last weekend, the Spartans were involved in the River Rumble.

Saint Vincent Pallotti, of Maryland, was runner-up to Salem. Powhattan took third, followed by Jefferson Forest, Liberty and Patrick Henry.

Local fans were awarded a surprise treat. Randolph-Henry was a late drop-out. As a result, the brackets were re-juggled and Liberty squared off with Forest. The two local squads weren't originally scheduled to meet.

Although both squads have a number of holes in their lineups, due to illness and/or departure, there were plenty of able bodies to provide some superb competition.

Down 36-15, Forest took advantage of its superb heavier weight wrestlers. At 171 pounds, Forest's Zack Cox pinned Taylor Kennedy late in the first round after nearly nailing the fall in the first 15 seconds.

After Liberty forfeited at 189 and 215, Forest was within 3 points with one match remaining: Cav Brandon Beemer against Liberty's Tyler Rice.

While Rice is one of those tough-as-nails kids, this is his first year wrestling, while Beemer is an old hand at the sport?a state qualifier, in fact. In the first period, Beemer got the take down, spent some time grinding Rice's head into the mat, then used a scissors wrap to the fall and the six points. The final score was JF 39 and Liberty 36.

As an aside, Rice would get a later pin over Patrick Henry's Jordan Parker.

Dustin Choate and Jacob Wallace put on a nice show at the 119 class. In a lively affair, Wallace walked away with the 12-9 decision.

In a rollicking affair at 130, Jarrett Payne and Jon Petersen went at it like a couple of tigers, seemingly wearing out the mat. Payne finally got the edge, getting a pin toward the end of the third.

With two mats featuring simultaneous wrestling, the Brawl was a non-stop cornucopia of wrestling action with plenty of memorable highlights.

Forest's Chris Bowyer curtailed his extended absence by coming out like a madman against opening foe Salem. Bowyer made quick work of Spartan Jake Semones, getting the pin in 1:31 of the first.

Brad Hoback and Chris Price earned the only wins against Pallotti. Hoback, used his low center of gravity and muscular frame to lift, drive and pin his guest from Laurel, MD.

Price, in only the second match of his career, took the heavyweight bout. Ahead 11-4 in the third, Price took the win when the match was called because of a flagrant violation. Following the match, Price displayed the reason for the disqualification?a clearly defined imprint of his opponent's teeth on his forearm. He seemed happy about the win despite his near-enlistment into the Donner Party.

Liberty Head Coach Darryl Updike, who served as event host, felt good about his team's showing. "This was the best liberty team that I've seen all season," he stated. "While the other teams were fading as the day went, we wrestled better!"

Updike pointed out that he had three wrestlers (Colton Witt, Dustin Choate and Jon Petersen) at higher weights than usual, but still produced solid results.

This is a young Liberty squad. In addition to Witt, there are three other freshmen getting significant mat time: Tyler Reynolds, Justin Eubank and Taylor Kennedy.

The workhorses for Liberty continue to be Ian Scott and the Hoback Brothers, Cam and Brad. "When it's time to work, they roll up their sleeves, dig in their heels and give it everything they've got," said Updike of the trio.

Brad Hoback looks to be the best hope that Liberty has at the state level.

While Updike was relatively pleased, Cav Head Coach Bill "Hutch" Hutchison was not. "We're just not wresting like we should be," he said, citing illness among his squad as one reason.

He did seem happy to have Bowyer back. "We're getting the usual (solid performances) out of Bowyer and Beemer," he said. He also likes what he sees in Wallace. "He's a good kid?enthusiastic," stated Hutch.

Quentin Boyd is also looking good for Forest. His 4-0 win over Salem was one of the better matches of the day. With a bit of fine tuning, he could become a significant threat in the middle weights.

Upcoming wrestling action

All three squads are back in action, kicking off the New Year with weekend sojourns. This Saturday, Staunton River and Liberty will take part in the Hill City Duals at E.C. Glass. Forest will head to Fauquier.

Last season, Staunton River took second, to Brookville, at the Glass Invite, despite losing four wrestlers over the course of the day to various maladies. Tony Boughton and Scott Fike should have the opportunity to match the undefeated runs they had in last year's event.

The Cavs will participate in the Falcon Duals at Fauquier. It should be quite an affair as the host team is currently ranked sixth in the state.

On Wednesday, Jan. 9, a couple of the teams get back to more mundane affairs as Staunton River has a rare home match with Heritage and Liberty takes a crack at Brookville when it heads to the Bee Hive.