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Staunton River Head Coach Ron Long is very much like those old Army recruiting posters featuring Uncle Sam.
He’s looking for a few good men.
In this past weekend’s River Rumble, Long’s Golden Eagles forfeited at three weight classes in each of their dual meets.
Despite yielding 18 points per match, via those forfeits, Staunton River showed it had enough gas in the tank to take third place, behind top-finishing LCA and runner-up Salem.
River finished second in its pool to LCA. The Golden Eagles opened with a 39-32 win over James River, fell to LCA 42-32 and topped Patrick Henry 51-21.
There were two pools of four teams each. At the conclusion of pool play, the top teams from each faced off for the championship. That is where LCA beat Salem, 34-31.
The second place teams in each pool faced off, as Staunton River beat Radford 40-24.
“We wrestled well,” said Long. “We just don’t have enough guys to be a great dual team. Giving up 18 will sink the best teams.”
The Eagles had nobody to throw into the mix at 103 pounds (the lightest class) and at heavyweight. They would also forfeit at either 112 (the class after 103) or 215 (the class before heavyweight).
What the Eagles lacked at the extremes, they seemed to make up in the middle.
Austin Carr and Scott Fike were presented with two of the three Outstanding Wrestler Awards at the conclusion of the affair. Carr, who grappled at 140, won the award for 135-152 pounders. Fike, who competed at 171 and 189 pounds, won the award for 160-215 pounders. The other award went to Owen Marshall of Salem (103-130 pounds).
The two Staunton River lads certainly earned their hardware. Carr’s 8-4 decision over Ryan Hepler locked in the Eagles’ opening round victory over James River.
Carr’s highlights also included pins in 31 seconds (over Patrick Henry) and 22 seconds, over Radford’s Tevin Ramsey.
Fike’s resume included pins over James River’s Dylan Johnson (57 seconds) and Radford’s Dillon Drushai. The 9 seconds it took Fike to pin his Radford counterpart represents a school record in brevity, according to Long. Fike used a spectacular spin-double to get that quick fall.
Nick Manley continues to impress. He topped Radford’s Jay Clark 16-5 to enact a bit of revenge at 160 pounds.
Clark had beaten Manley in the semifinals of the Titan Toughman a couple of weeks ago. Clark, who went on to win the Toughman title, seems to be an arch-nemesis of Manley.
Dustin Choate is quietly becoming a force at 130 pounds. Highlights from the Rumble include Choate’s second-round pin of Radford’s Josh Custer and a pin in 1:10 in the Patrick Henry bout.
Another one to keep an eye on is Andrew Joseph, a long drink of water at only 125 pounds.
While Joseph took a tight loss to Radford’s Sam Mumpower (5-2), he had convincing wins over Patrick Henry (pin in 2:45) and James River’s Kevin King (9-2 decision).
In what may have been the most vigorously contested match of the entire tournament, Staunton River’s Dustin Kidd and James River’s Anthony Garrison locked horns at 215 pounds.
Kidd is normally a 189- pounder, but he moved up a class to allow Fike to jump to 189 and Manley to move up to 171.
That left Kidd to deal with a big bruiser in the form of Garrison.
Within the first minute of the fight, Garrison had hurled Kidd out of the circle and off of the mat.
Smacking his coconut on the hardwoods, Kidd seemed only slightly worse for the wear.
Of note, the floor went undented.
With both grapplers bleeding, Kidd managed to spinout on an escape, get the takedown and earn a near-fall.
Garrison, however, worked out an escape to post a 7-6 lead.
Kidd nearly had the match-clinching take-down, as time expired in the final round.
The prediction here is that Garrison will place at the state level for Class A James River.
That Kidd could hold his own against such a wrestler, while giving up 20, or so, pounds is a nice testament to his abilities.
That he was willing to take one for the team is a testament to his leadership; a big reason why he is one of the team captains, along with Fike.