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The generally accepted Machiavellian principle is that if you challenge a king, you must kill him. Otherwise, woe be it onto you.
In the case of the Seminole District championship tournament, regal Brookville was challenged, but came away with its kingdom intact, wearing the District crown for a 39th consecutive year.
While Staunton River placed more wrestlers (9) into the finals than did the Bees (8), it was Brookville's depth that proved to be the difference. Brookville tallied 260.5 team points to Staunton River's 206.5. Forest took third with 154. Liberty came sixth with 114.
The Eagles had nobody to put into the 103, 215 or heavyweight rounds, a guarantee of zero points out of those three classes. At the other 11 weights, Staunton River did just fine, with everyone nabbing at least a fourth place thus qualifying for Regionals this weekend at Stuart's Draft. Forest will send seven lads to the Draft, while Liberty will be represented by 5.
"I'm disappointed we didn't win," rued Staunton River Head Coach Ron Long. "If we had a full team it'd be closer. Brookville did a good job."
The Brookville team features 8 seniors. Staunton River wrestles 8 sophomores.
Eagle titlists included senior Will Epperly at 130, who Long conceded would be hard to replace. Epperly won his title with quick pins of Liberty's Robert Smith and Rustburg's Ross Garner. In the title bout, Epperly made nearly exclusive use of a scissors hold to throttle the fight out of Garner.
Epperly was followed in quick order by Eagle Jeremy Tyree at 135. In a feature of county rivals, Liberty's Brad Hoback gave Tyree all he could handle. Hoback, also fighting off a pesky bloody nose, got a takedown in the second to knot things at 4-4, but Tyree pulled a quick reverse then dominated the third to win 11-5.
River's Scott Fike, looking the role of "The Masked Avenger," faced Forest's Tommy Neal for the gold at 160. Fike had broken his nose in practice earlier in the week and was wearing protective gear. Both wrestlers were well rested for the title bout. Fike had spent 32 seconds pinning Brookville's Josh Bombardier. Neal earned his two pins in a total of 1:50.
The two put on the best match of the finals. After an illegal hold put Neal up 2-1 with :45 left, Fike pulled the reverse on his county foe as his coaches shouted in delight at the 3-2 victory. "Fike is a hard-nosed kid," said Long, in this case the phrase was both literal and figurative.
The final Eagle title was won by Dustin Kidd at 171. Kidd pinned highly regarded Brandon Epperson of Brookville, pinning the Bee early in the second round after racking up a 4-0 edge.
Forest's B&B combo was at it again. Chris Bowyer took the crown at 189 along with a selection as the District 2008 Outstanding Wrestler. In a rematch of the County Championship, Bowyer faced off with powerful Tony Boughton. Again, Bowyer earned a second period pin. Boughton gamely fought off the fall in the first period, but Bowyer was just too much.
"Last year, he tried to muscle everyone," said JF Head Coach "Hutch" Hutchinson. "This year, he has technique to go with that muscle."
215 pounder Brandon Beemer showed off some fine technique of his own. He pinned his way through the bracket, finishing off Brookville's Cory Patterson in the final (3:42). It was a bit of a measure of revenge for Beemer from football season. Patterson was an All-District center on the team that topped Forest last fall. Beemer was an All-District defensive lineman on that team. "He's worked a lot harder this year," noted Hutch.
Both Beemer and Bowyer have to be considered in the running for a state title.
Liberty freshman Colton Witt was the sole champ for the developing Minutemen team, taking the decision over fellow frosh Will Drinkard, of JF. Building up a 4-0 lead in the first, Witt let Drinkard ride the entire second but yielded not a point. He iced the match with a takedown in the third for the 6-0 win.
"We knew he'd be strong," said Liberty Head Coach Darryl Updike of Witt. "And he hasn't disappointed us. His work in practice paid off."
Other Regional qualifiers
In addition to the aforementioned, here are the regional qualifiers from our county:
Staunton River: Travis Claytor (112 pounds, 2nd place), Austin Wood (119, 2nd), Andrew Joseph (125, 3rd), Austin Carr (140, 2nd), Mark Ray (145, 4th) and Nick Manley (152, 2nd).
Jefferson Forest: Jacob Wallace (112, 3rd), Blake Woodall (119, 3rd) and Jarrett Payne (125, 2nd).
Liberty: Cam Hoback (152, 4th), Tyler Rice (215, 4th) and Chris Price (Hwt, 4th).