Panther wrestlers battle well in Madison

Thunder resounded in the mountains Dec. 23 when the Rappahannock wrestling team traveled to Madison County for the Mountaineer Duals.

The Panthers wrestled in the same pool with Orange County (AA) and the Top 10 Single A-ranked James River from Buchanan, Va. Rapp squared off against James River first and lost 48-30 in a vigorous back-and-forth match. Leading the way with pins were CJ Sidrow (112), Zack Armor (119), Cody Casey (125), and Britt Hipple (HWT). Matt Lombardi (140) picked up a forfeit.

Rapp succumbed to Orange, 49-24, in the second match. Sidrow (103) and Dylan Hitt (130) picked up pins, while Armor and Hipple earned forfeits. Coach Jamie Harris shared highlights: “Casey dropped an intense overtime match to his Orange opponent 12-10 in what may have been one of the best matches of the day. Since we finished 0-2 in pool match-ups, we faced off with the other 0-2 pool teams from the first rounds. That was Riverbend (AAA), Albemarle (AA), and our Bull Run rival Clarke County.”

In the match-up with Riverbend, the Panthers came out firing. Sidrow (112), Casey, Patrick Foley (145), Amrit Tamang (152), and Smith Clifton (160) earned pins. “This was Foley’s first ever pin and win on the varsity level,” coach Harris related. Dennis McGillivray (171) and Hipple earned forfeits as the Panthers rolled to a 60-12 win over their AAA opponent.

The next match saw the Panthers facing off against a tough Albemarle team. Once again, Rapp relied on pins from Sidrow (103), Armor, and Casey. The win was set up when Hitt pinned his Albemarle opponent. It also set the stage for sophomore and 140-pounder Lombardi. Coach Harris said, “Lombardi delivered a signature Panther move to gain the pin and the win.” Clifton and Hipple picked up forfeit wins, as well. Final score: Rappahannock 41, Albemarle 30.

At 2-2, the Panthers faced off in the final match of the day with Bull Run rival and defending district and regional champion, Clarke County. “This was a battle that may have sent a message to the teams of the Bull Run,” coach Harris commented. “The message is: young Panthers want to contend this season.” In a match filled with exciting wrestling, the Eagles prevailed 48-30. Rapp was powered by pins from Sidrow (103), Armor, Casey, and forfeit wins by Hitt and Lombardi.

Sidrow (103/112) and Armor both finished 5-0 on the day and captured first place medals. Hitt (130/135), Casey and Hipple finished 4-1, while Matt Lombardi finished 3-2.

“We started off slow in the pool match-ups,” coach Harris said, “but we really started to step it up in each match. Several of the teams we wrestled did not have a 103, so we bumped CJ up to 112 to pick up points and he delivered in all five matches with pins. Zack wrestled really well, and I feel that the Clarke match may have been his best. He got a nosebleed that we were having trouble stopping. We got it stopped, and he went out and pinned the kid right before the buzzer went off. Cody, Dylan, and Britt all stepped it up and did well.

“Dylan was put in the same situation as CJ. I moved him up because I felt he gave us a chance to pick up points. Britt did really well against James River and then against Clarke. In fact, they bumped their 215-pounder up (Logan Large was the state runner-up at 215 last year), and Britt hung tough with him before getting pinned. Big kudos go to Patrick Foley who got his first ever pin. All in all, I was pleased with our wrestling. We are getting better as we go.”

With a 4-4 dual meet record, Rapp hosted the inaugural Panther Christmas Brawl Duals on Tuesday and Wednesday (Dec. 28 and 29; results not available by earlier holiday press time). First-day match-ups had the Panthers meeting Warren County B, William Monroe, Central-Woodstock and Massaponax. Second day match-ups were determined by the first day’s results. “I really believe we can get those six wins to set the school record,” coach Harris predicted, “but the team has higher goals. They want to shatter records this year. With their determination and hard work, I believe they will.”