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Let others have their figgy puddings and auld lang synes.
In what was the opposite of Christmas cheer, ten crews of wrestlers got together at the Liberty gym this past weekend to exchange seasonal unpleasantries at the Bedford Brawl.
When all was said and done, Salem walked away with the top prize, a result of some superb wrestling and a grievous error by Jefferson Forest.
The Spartans took their second straight Brawl title (they beat St. Vincent Pallotti in last year’s final) by beating Powhatan in this year’s title tilt, 57-21.
In a remarkable show of sportsmanship, Powhatan Head Coach Lee Richardson presented his tournament runner-up trophy to the Jefferson Forest team, which had finished in third place.
It was Coach Richardson’s opinion that the Cavs had exceeded his own team’s performance.
Richardson’s assessment was well grounded. The Cavs found themselves in the same pool as Salem (there were two five-team pools). In the opening round, Salem defeated JF by the score of 39-38.
During that match, Forest was assessed a one-point penalty because one of the team’s official scorers was making overly animated criticisms of the officiating during Alex Cox’s match at 135 pounds. The comments from the scorers’ table resulted in the ref dinging the Cavs.
The one-point penalty represented the margin of loss for the Cavs.
Salem would go on to sweep the rest of the pool, while JF would take second in the same grouping.
Forest went on to beat Pallotti, 40-18, in the third place round.
Cav Head Coach Bill “Hutch” Hutchinson seemed miffed following the Salem match. “I’ve never seen (a scorer called for a team foul) in 30 years (of coaching),” he said.
Salem Head Coach Randall Sell empathized with Hutch. “I hated it to end like that,” he stated.
But, make no mistake, this Sell, who coached at Staunton River until last season, is building himself a strong program.
Things should only get better for the Spartans. The first thing that Sell did when he took over at Salem was to institute a grade-school wrestling function. That should feed the Spartans for some time.
Additionally, Salem features Owen Marshall, a 130-pounder who finished 8th in the state last year, and RJ Hall, a 189-pound brute who took the Titan Toughman this season.
The Cavs showed some serious firepower in this event. Old reliables came through, once again, for the team. Jarrett Payne (140 pounds), Jacob Wallace (119), Blake Woodall (103), and Josh West (215) each went undefeated.
Payne had three pins and a technical fall, looking quite comfortable in the 140 slot.
West had a bushel basket of pins. Wallace nearly got the fall against Salem, but the round timed out as it appeared Wallace had his man. Had the pin stuck, that also might have turned the tide for the Cavs.
But make no mistake, Wallace did his job and more.
Tommy Neal (160) nearly had a perfect day, falling only to a grappler from Pallotti, who was a two-time regional runner-up.
Alex Cox (135) went an impressive 4-1 for the day. Cox and Josh Bowyer represent possibly the most potent tandem of freshmen wrestlers in the Seminole District, if not the region.
Host Liberty took fifth place overall. The Minutemen finished third in their pool, behind Powhatan and Pallotti.
In the fifth-place bout, Liberty took Heritage, 36-30.
Liberty appears to be hindered by a lack of numbers. Those that do suit up for the team have turned in some fine performances, and the Brawl was no exception.
Jordan Eubanks (140) ran the slate, winning all five of his matches via fall.
His brother, Jordan (119) was nearly as impressive, going 4-1 for the day.
Tyler Reynolds was also 4-1. His sole defeat came when he jumped up a weight class to 171.
Ian Scott (135) had a nice run of 4-1. His sole loss came in a close decision to Pallotti.
Taylor Kennedy (189) and Colton Witt (125) posted neat 3-2 performances for the tourney.
Liberty Head Coach Ethan Lucas took a quick break from running the tourney and coaching his team to chat.
“The guys are learning by leaps and bounds,” he said. “Hopefully, by the end of the year, we’ll be putting it together.”
The official order of finish was:
3. Jefferson Forest
7. Fluvanna County
8. Parry McClure
9. Patrick Henry
10. Virginia Bandits