River falls just short

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Eagle grapplers led by Deisher, Jacobs

By Mike Forster

  Well, that wasn't very gracious, was it?

Liberty Christian Academy hosted its annual Bulldog Invitational tourney last weekend.  LCA played the role of rude host, keeping the team championship trophy for itself.

Not to worry, though.  Local grapplers had many shining moments, giving us a peek at what should be a superb Bedford County championship on Jan. 16 (at Jefferson Forest).

In all, seventeen wrestlers from Liberty, Jefferson Forest and Staunton River medaled at LCA.  To medal, a wrestler had to finish in the top six in his weight.  Each class had 24 slots.

Two locals who finished at the tippy-top of their weight classes were Dustin Deisher and Andrew Jacobs, of Staunton River.

Deisher delivered one of the most stunning wins of the tourney in the 195-pound finals.  There, the Golden Eagle senior faced off against LCA's Blake Papet.  

A State (VISSA) finalist last year, Papet came into the finals with a mark of 18-1.  It was Deisher, who entered the fray with a record of 15-3, who emerged with the win.  He did so quickly.

Mere seconds into the match, Deisher spotted his opening, throwing Papet and pressing him for the pin in sixty seconds.  "It's nice to come close and finally win one," said Deisher.  "(Papet) beat me two tournaments ago by shooting, so I threw him.  He's really good."

So is the River senior, who earned all of his wins at LCA via quick pins, including one in 19 seconds.

Deisher's win immediately preceded that of teammate Jacobs on the championship mat.

The Eagle sophomore faced a formidable foe in top-seeded Daniel Alonzo, of Monticello, in the 220 bout.

Alonzo had picked up three quick pins to earn his way to the finals.  Jacobs had punched his ticket with a hard-fought 5-4 win over LCA's Cameron Russell in the semifinals.

Still, Jacobs was unwilling to cede anything.  "You have to train yourself to adapt and overcome, no matter the size of the opponent," said Jacobs, whose wisdom seems to belie his youth.

He hung tough through the first five and a half minutes of the championship match.  With 25 seconds remaining, Jacobs struck.  Technically, it appeared Jacobs used a double-under hook to throw Alonzo on his back.  Think of it as a bear hug used to excellent effect.

In fact, Jacobs nearly got the pin in the waning seconds.

"(The win) means a great deal to my team as it might put us in front," said Jacobs.  "I'd rather the team won, even though this is an individual sport."

Well, here are the team results for you:

1.  LCA 196

2. Staunton River 189

3. Benedictine 182

4. Powhatan 156

5. Cape Henry Collegiate 139

6. Jefferson Forest 138

7. Riverheads 116

8 Norfolk Academy 111

9. Collegiate (Richmond) 111

10.Fishburne Military  85

11.Rockbridge County  79

12.Hargrave Military  68

13.Bishop Sullivan  63

14.Liberty  57

15.Monticello  55

16.Chatham  46

17.Covenant School  43

18.Blue Ridge School  34

19 LCA-B squad  31

20.Virginia Episcopal  21

21.Rustburg  15


Staunton River held the lead (by a point) over LCA going into the final round.  Both teams had nine wrestlers in the medal rounds.

But the Bulldogs managed three first-place finishes, a second and a trio of thirds.  River could only manage two top-places, a second and a third.

Still, Eagle Head Coach Ronnie Long had much about which to be pleased.  "I think we're starting to pick it up," he noted.  "We've got a good group of seniors."

Jefferson Forest Head Coach Bill "Hutch" Hutchinson was disappointed with his team's sixth-place finish, as he had aspirations of finishing as high as third.  "I hate doing just OK," rued Hutch.  "That's not why we're here."

It should be noted that this year's version of the Cav wrestling team includes only three members with previous varsity experience.

Likewise, Liberty had a fairly light contingent, with only three of the Minutemen making the medal round.


Champs plus any local medal winners

Wt 106

1-Brady Leffew-LCA

3-Jeff Reed - Jefferson Forest

Wt 113

1-Logan Harvich - CH Coll.

5-Randy Lin - Jeff Forest

Wt 120

1-Dustin Runzo - Norfolk Ac.

3-Bret Romanzak - Jeff Forest

6-Jake Thompson - St. River

Wt 126

1-Braxton Walker-Benedictine

Wt 132

1-Shane Corbin Benedictine

4-Joey Nigro-Jefferson Forest

Wt 138

1-Andrew Atkinson-LCA

5-Luke Mitchell-Jeff Forest

6-Taylor Blake-Staunton River

Wt 145

1-Ike Podell-LCA

4-Quannie Blake-St. River 

Wt 152

1-Adam Hoofnagle-Rockbridge

3-Forrest Walters St. River

Wt 160

1-Judah Bruce-Rockbridge 

2-Chris Tyree-Staunton River

Wt 170

1-Jake Tomlinson-Powhatan

5-Jacob Blankenship-J. Forest

6-Elijah Seay-Staunton River

Wt 182

1-Thomas Smith-Powhatan

4-Josiah Davison -Liberty

Wt 195

1-Dustin Deisher-St. River

3-Garrett Neal-Jeff Forest

6-Nick Clark-Liberty

Wt 220

1-Andrew Jacobs-St. River

Wt 285

1 -Austin Hague-Benedictine 

4-Ethan Tolley-Staunton River

5-Josh Quick-Liberty


So, next Wednesday's Bedford County championship has the potential for intrigue.

For example, at LCA, Liberty's Clark gave River's Deisher his toughest match at 195.

JF's Neal will be gunning  for Deisher, as the two did not meet at LCA.

We also like the competitiveness of the 138-pound class, with JF's Mitchell, River's Blake and Liberty's Alex Conway.

We can expect a donnybrook at 145 between River's Blake, Liberty's Allen Kittrell and JF's Eric Smith.

Jan. 16 was originally scheduled to serve as the date of the Heritage at JF dual meet.  That was expanded to include Liberty and Staunton River. 

So now, the county schools will have their championship meet with Heritage thrown in for good measure.

The action is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. at the Jefferson Forest gym.