Smithfield and New Kent made strong bids for top-two team finishes in their state wrestling tournaments on Friday and Saturday. They fell short, settling for program-best third places, but both came away with a historic prize: a first individual state champion.
Smithfield senior Jordon Garlow earned his school's first wrestling state gold stylishly with a first-period pin. New Kent junior B.C. Laprade admitted to his coach that he wrestled conservatively in his final, but still managed a close decision.
The Bay Rivers District's other individual winner not only comes from a program with scores of state individual golds, his dad has more state titles than the Smithfield and New Kent programs combined. Poquoson sophomore Ross Graham won his Group 3A 182-pound final with an 8-4 decision over Staunton River's Elijah Seay, to join is father Casey Graham, a three-time winner in his days with the Islanders, as a state champ.
Graham's Poquoson team fell well short of its team state championship goal. Christiansburg won its 13th consecutive state title, scoring 101 points in the 3A tournament to far outdistance Brenstville (83 points), New Kent (82) and Poquoson (73.5).
Hanover (96 points) won the 4A state crown in a tightly contested battle with Fauquier (90.5), Smithfield (88.5) and Eastern View (87.5). Smithfield coach John Swartz was ecstatic with the finish.
"Going into the 4A tournament everybody was saying, 'Smithfield who,'" he said. "We came in and made our statement on the mat.
"We brought just six wrestlers and four made the finals. I'm happy to come away with third and making history."
If there was a disappointment for the Packers, it was that Nick Kennedy, a star linebacker on the football team, missed so narrowly at giving the program a second state title. Kennedy was tied with 10 seconds left in his final, when Dindwiddie's Aaron Vaughn pulled out a 5-4 win with a reversal.
Carter Page did well to make the 152-pound final. The Packers' Ross Manfred could not overcome an early deficit in losing 2-0 to Handley's Jordan Dowrey in the heavyweight match.
Garlow came through in spectacular fashion by pinning Sherando's PK Jessen in the first period.
"Jordon has a devastating headlock and he put him down quick and the match was over," Swartz said, noting that Garlow had 109 pins in his high school career.
New Kent coach Mike Faus said it was apparent that Laprade felt the pressure of getting the program's first state title, but added, "He got the job done." Laprade did so with a 3-1 over Creed Lumpp of champion Christiansburg in the 138-pound final.
The Trojans' Blake Hohman did not fare as well against his Christiansburg opponent in the 145 final, losing 8-0 to David Giantonio. Despite losing 5-3 to Koda Wagner of Rockbridge County, New Kent's Zach Edmonds could be happy with reaching the 170 final after not even qualifying for states last year.
It was a year of resurgence as well for the New Kent program, which many felt was poised to fall behind Poquoson. The Trojans edged the Islanders for the Bay Rivers title, then finished ahead of them in two of three postseason tournaments.
"I think after last year, when Poquoson beat us for the district title, some people were ready to buy us a tombstone," Faus said. "But the kids had a great offseason and, if they do that again, we'll be in good shape next year."
Other area finalists were Poquoson's Riley Howell (195) in 3A and Tabb's Hunter Starner (132) and Jamestown's Caden Darber (126).
Team Scores: 1. Christiansburg 101.5, 2. Brentsville 83, 3. New Kent 82, 4. Poquoson 73.5, 5. Cave Spring 70, 6. Brookville 65, 7. Warren County 61.5, 8. Waynesboro 58, 9. Skyline 49, 10. Manassas Park 48, 11. Northside 47, 11. Rockbridge County 47, 13. Staunton River 36, 14. Loudoun Valley 33, 15. Abingdon 28, 16. Kettle Run 23, 17. Alleghany 22, 18. Colonial Heights 20, 18. Stuarts Draft 20, 18. Western Albermarle 20, 21. York 19, 22. Broadway 16, 22. Lafayette 16, 22. Lord Botetourt 16, 25. Hopewell 15, 25. Turner Ashby 15, 27. Southampton 13, 28. Fort Defiance 12, 29. Central 10, 30. Monticello 9, 30. William Monroe 9, 32. Tunstall 8, 33. William Byrd 7, 34. Warhill 4, 35. John Champe 1.
106: Reid Stewart (Brookville) d. Zach Beckner (Warren County), 4-1.
113: Jeffrey Walker (Brentsville) p. Ashton Brown (Brookville), 3:16.