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First in 22.
That’s first, as in final position.
That’s 22, as in the number of teams at the LCA Invitational.
Eight in 14.
That’s eight, as in how many county wrestlers made it to the finals at LCA.
That’s 14, as in how many weight classes there are.
Not bad, guys.
Jefferson Forest led throughout and finished with 206.5. That total was ten points better than runner-up Martinsville.
Host LCA came in third, and Cape Henry was fourth.
Staunton River finished fifth, while Liberty finished ninth in the 29-team field.
JF had four of its grapplers head into the finals: Will Drinkard, Blake Woodall, Forest Speake and Garrett Neal.
Staunton River’s Anthony Rezzonico, Paul Williams and Chris Tyree made it to the final match, as well.
Tyler Reynolds was Liberty’s sole finalist.
In a testament to team strength, the Cavs took the team trophy in spite of all four of its finalists falling to second place.
The three River rasslers and Reynolds all prevailed in the finals.
Rezzonico repeated as an LCA champ at 125 pounds. “I was hoping to make the finals again,” he said. “This is a good tournament for us.”
Williams was not as sure of his chances. “Making it this far was a bit of a surprise,” he said, before winning the final at 152. Perhaps encouraged by his success, Williams said, “I want to place high at States. Hopefully, third or fourth.”
A top-notch catcher in baseball and the heir apparent to the Eagle football quarterbacking job, we don’t doubt this sophomore will find success.
Tyree, though, was the cream of this crop. At 20-0, he has a real shot at States, though that road certainly goes through Christiansburg. “Everybody should be trying for first place,” answered the sophomore when asked what his goals were.
Another of his goals is to see more participants in the sport. “We want kids to come out even if they haven’t wrestled before,” he stated.
Certainly, guys like Liberty’s Reynolds should be models for such candidates.
Just back from a broken hand, Reynolds earned his title at 171 pounds. He had only three days of practice before entering the fray. That’s some debut.
“I feel a bit rusty, weak and out of shape” said Reynolds.
Goodness knows how he’ll do when he’s back in fighting trim.
Reynolds is widely acknowledge as a tough hombre. He’s got good company in JF’s Neal.
While the 189-pounder lost in the finals, it wasn’t for a lack of effort and persistence.
In his semifinal win, Neal’s coconut was cracked just above the right eye. That took three stiches.
In the finals, he caught a gouge just below that same eye.
The subsequent repair jobs left him with limited sight; surely a hindrance in this sport.
His assessment, even with the damages? “This is a fun, big tournament.”
Folks, it’ll take a lot more than a few dings to stop this tough guy.
Another coming back from injury is Woodall, at 135. The JF senior bounced back from a broken wrist.
He made it to the finals, picking up three pins along the way.
Woodall enjoyed the tournament because it gave him another look at LCA, Staunton River, Rustburg and Liberty, among the 29 teams.
Speake, who improved to 20-2 for the season, attributed JF’s success to its depth. “We’re a full team for the first time,” he said. He also noted that the Forest youth program is doing a nice job of filling the high school pipeline.
Drinkard, a 125-pounder for JF, was succinct and logical when asked about his goals for this season.
“I want to be a state champ,” he answered. “Why else would I be out here?”
Other local placers
JF: Randy Lin (112), fifth; Peyton Woodall (119), fourth; Josh Bowyer (145), sixth; Alex Cox (152), third; Caleb Prather (160), fourth.
River: Jacob Thompson (103), fourth; Patrick Love (171), fourth; Mychael Smith (145), fifth.
Liberty: Justin Eubank, fourth; Jordan Eubank, fourth, Jesse Blankenship, fourth; Levi Morse, sixth.