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There's a new king of the Seminole mats. And he wears a black and red singlet.
Jefferson Forest romped its way to its first Seminole District title in who knows how many years. No one seems to know, because Brookville has owned the crown for the past 44 years.
That all changed on Saturday. In wrestling at Brookville's Hive, it was the Cavs who reigned supreme.
Jefferson Forest placed all ten of its wrestlers in the finals, ensuring the Cavs had mathematically locked up first place before the finals even started. Did that remove the opportunity for a dramatic ending? Yes. Did it do anything to dull the Cav drive?
Nope. Those ten went on to win nine final bouts, an almost unheard-of accomplishment.
Also almost unheard-of were the team scores:
1 Jefferson Forest 206
2 E.C. Glass 134.5
3 Liberty 120
4 Brookville 86
5 Heritage 57
6 Rustburg 56.5
7 Amherst 47
(Neither Amherst nor Brookville wrestled their best. Amherst had Conference 23 duals concurrently. Brookville opted to wrestle from its second-tier.)
"These guys work hard for most of the year," said Jefferson Forest Coach Randy Horning. "They hit their stride at the right time, and I'm very proud of them."
Of the fourteen weight classes, JF won nine, Liberty took two, Glass won two and Brookville earned one.
Starting with the 113-pound class, there was a streak of eight-straight JF champs:
-Randy Lin, a team captain at 113, who topped Glass's Jamison Spinner, 5-1 in the final.
-Blake Justis, at 120, who picked up three pins, including one in 13 seconds.
-Bret Romanzak, who took a pair of pins to win out at 126 pounds. A junior, Romanzak was also named Seminole District Wrestler of the Year.
-Anthony Rubilar, a team captain who pinned Liberty's Garrett Day in the final at 132 pounds.
-Peyton Woodall, one of the hardest hitters on the JF football team, who beat top seed Carter Lovern, 5-4, in the final at 138.
-Luke Mitchell, who wrestled crisply at 145, taking the championship via an 8-2 decision over Hilltopper Logan Ernest in the title bout.
-Eric Smith, at 152, who claimed his title when he topped Rustburg's Jason Ruff with a second-round pin in the finale.
-Taylor Goolsby, who pinned his way to a championship title at 160 pounds.
The final JF titlist was Matt Canter. Not only did he take the title at 182 pounds, Canter also gets the award for brevity. He pinned Amherst's Jermiah Brooks and Brookville's Josh Greene in a total of one minute and 38 seconds.
Liberty's nice showing
The Minutemen had their best showing at a district championship meet in recent memory. The third-place finish is indicative of a program that is on the rise, not only in the number of participants it has drawn, but in how its wrestlers perform.
"We prepared and performed very well," said Liberty Head Coach Ethan Lucas. "We did very well, with 10 of our 13 wrestlers placing."
None did as well as Zach Harmony and Tyler Gordon. Harmony put the only blemish on JF's otherwise perfect day when he pinned Jefferson Forest's Will Norvelle in the second period of their 170-pound bout.
Harmony had earlier pinned Amherst's Kyle Davis in under a minute. "He's our best surprise this year," assessed Lucas.
Indeed, last season, Harmony had a middling campaign at 160 pounds. This year, 10 pounds heavier, he's already won 30 matches and is now the Seminole District champion. "His work has paid off," said Lucas. "We knew he had it in him. Now he believes in himself."
Another Minuteman who should believe in himself is Gordon. In his heavyweight finale with Heritage's Jordan Ferguson, Gordon used Ferguson's own momentum to pull off the reverse, putting the Pioneer on his back in a minute and a half.
"That's a move I've worked on hard at practice," said a clearly elated Gordon. "With the help of great coaches, anything is possible."
"I've told [Gordon] all year not to rush and force things," said Lucas. "Today he wrestled with a purpose and a plan."
Other Liberty wrestlers who placed in the top four included:
-Ethan Plott, second at 126 pounds.
-Garrett Day, second at 132 pounds.
-Hunter Toms, fourth at 138 pounds.
-Kyle Rusher, fourth at 152 pounds.
-Cody Oullette, third at 160 pounds.
-Tucker Grant, third at 182 pounds.
-Dylan Smith, fourth at 195 pounds.
Jarrett Rusher, fourth at 220 pounds.