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Staunton River’s Chris Tyree found himself in rarefied air Saturday night as he mounted the podium at the Salem Civic Center.
There, Tyree was awarded the second-place medal at the State Wrestling Tournament.
Tyree was runner-up at 160 pounds, falling to Christiansburg’s Rich Eva in the finals.
Nevertheless, the Staunton River sophomore may well be the highest-ever finisher from Bedford County at this level. We do know that he is the highest finisher in Staunton River history.
And, with Eva set to graduate this spring (and, we hear, move on to Princeton), Tyree could well be in position to improve on his own standard.
By the way, the previous Staunton River grappler to advance the furthest at States? Why, it’s Jeremy Tyree, Chris’s older brother, who took third last year.
In what could be described as the opposite of sibling rivalry, Jeremy Tyree appeared to be Chris’s biggest booster, providing tips and helping him to warm up before the finale.
Tyree had a clean path to the showdown with Eva.
He opened with a 22-7 win over Hidden Valley’s Josh Slate.
He followed that up by pinning Fauquier’s Max Strum in 59 seconds. “I was pretty excited after that,” said Tyree.
He became even more excited when he topped Louden County’s Kenton Perez, 3-1 in the semifinals.
“Reaching the State finals was a goal,” he noted. Tyree finished in sixth place last year.
Though Tyree would drop the final via a second-period pin, the Staunton River grappler kept things in perspective. “That was the craziest match I’ve ever had,” he recalled. “I wasn’t nervous. Though I’m a little disappointed, I just enjoyed it.”
And next? “I want to work even harder,” he stated. “You need to set big goals and work hard.”
Tyree headed up a contingent of 12 Bedford County wrestlers, six of which medalled at States.
River’s Anthony Rezzonico was the next highest local finisher, taking sixth place at 125 pounds.
A pair of Jefferson Forest grapplers took seventh place slots: Blake Woodall, at 135 pounds and Josh Bowyer at 145.
JF’s Will Drinkard nabbed an eighth-place berth at 125 and River’s Paul Williams wound up in eighth at 152.
Meanwhile, to the surprise of nobody, Christiansburg waltzed off with the team title, taking the crown in convincing fashion.
1. Christiansburg 258
2. Grundy 133
3. Brookville 112
4. New Kent 102
5. Fauquier 99.5
Staunton River finished in 15th place, with 33.5 points.
Jefferson Forest wound up in 20th, at 22 points.
Liberty finished in a tie for 43rd place, courtesy of the three points Tyler Reynolds won in the consolation rounds.
Things got off to a very rocky (that is, non-Rocky) start, as nine of the county’s contingent of 12 wrestlers lost in the opening round.
While Tyree, Staunton River’s Williams and Jefferson Forest’s Bowyer earned wins in their openers, the rest of their mates took it on the chin.
It was painful to bear, as local grapplers lost by the slimmest of margins. River’s Rezzonico lost in overtime, on a takedown.
Liberty’s Jordan Eubank (140) also lost in overtime, 6-4, just before his big brother, Justin, lost a heartbreaker, 1-0, on the very same mat where Jordan lost. (There were four AA mats and four A mats going on concurrently.)
River’s Zakk Moorman (130) had his broken leg healed well enough to wrestle from his feet. Still, he took a tough opening loss via third-round pin.
Jefferson Forest’s Blake Woodall lost in overtime, in a heartbreaker, to Grafton’s Justin McRee.
Jefferson Forest’s Alex Cox (152) had Christiansburg’s James Linkous on his back but couldn’t finish the job, as he, too, fell in opening round action.
The parade o’ pain went on and on.
Jefferson Forest Head Coach Bill “Hutch” Hutchison shook his head as four of his five wrestlers lost openers, nearly all of them close ones. Bowyer was the only winner at that point.
“When you talk about placing at States, you have no idea what you’re saying,” noted Hutch. “It’s a whole different level of wrestling.”
Indeed, with the top four wrestlers of each region showing up, you have a quite a showplace of talent.
Added Staunton River Head Coach Ronnie Long, “This is the big show. It’s what you work for all year.”
-As usual, Christiansburg and Grundy sent huge contingents of fans. They were duly rewarded, as 11 of the 14 AA champions came from one of the two schools. Christiansburg wrestlers took seven individual titles, while the Grundyans nabbed four.
-Take note, smaller schools: Grundy will move down a class, from AA to A next season, reflecting its small student population. Yikes!
-Three Brookville wrestlers earned second place honors: Trung Duong (130 pounds), Derek Thurman (171) and Victor Montalbano (215).
-Mike Jones, a Lord Botetourt 215 pounder, also took second place.