Panther wrestlers’ wins make up for team scores

Panther wrestlers recently took their talents on the road for one Bull Run District meet and one tough tournament. Last Wednesday (Jan. 11), the team hosted district opponents George Mason and Madison. On Friday and Saturday (Jan. 13-14), Rappahannock wrestlers traveled to  Eastern View High School for a large, two-day tournament.

In Bull Run play, the Panther team scores were Madison 40-18 and George Mason 42-22, but per their usual style, the individual wrestlers gave their all for laudable personal victories. “Dylan Hitt, Zach Armor, and Alexis Heckethorn won both matches,” coach Galen Weyer said. “Pat Foley wrestled the returning 160-pound state champion and the runner up and held his own against both.”

At Eastern View, Rappahannock’s team finished 18th out of 21. “We were the only single A school in the tournament,” Weyer said. “The other schools were AA or AAA.

“All our wrestlers went 0-2 except for Pat Foley and Dylan Hitt,” he said. “Foley went 3-2 and came one match away from placing in the tournament. Hitt went 3-1, and made it to the finals, finishing in second place. The competition at the tournament was harder than our state wrestling tournament, so I am happy with those two results.”

“We got started so late on Friday,” Hitt said. “My first match wasn’t until 9 p.m., and it went into overtime because the score was tied 11-11. With 15 seconds it was 11-9. I was trying to cut him and he hit the reverse on me. That bumped the score up for the tie. I was wrestling with a weakened muscle in my back, so when I took the kid down, my back locked up on me. All that, and I had to wrestle again. I won my next match with a pin.

“Semifinals were Saturday morning,” he said. “I didn’t wrestle until noon . . . The kid was from Culpeper and was someone I’d lost to by only a point earlier in the season. The first-period score was 4-2. After second period, it was 6-4. I ended up putting him on his back in the third (9-2) and got some back points. He got a reversal to bring it to 9-4. Then, I hit a reversal on him at the end with only two seconds left for my 11-4 win.

“I lost the final match to a state-ranked AAA wrestler,” Hitt said. “I lost 1-16 because I got tech-falled. At one point in the match, it looked like I was seriously injured. He did an illegal slam with my head, and that’s where I got my point. I decided to keep wrestling, but I lost.”

“I got second overall for the day,” he said, “and our team finished 18th out of the 21 teams. It was a tough tournament with a lot of AAA schools, but at least we didn’t come in last.”

Panthers prowl the mats again next Wednesday (Jan. 25) at Manassas Park. Competition begins at 6 p.m.

—Melissa Delcour

RCHS boys drop two

Rappahannock boys’ basketball confronted two opponents last week. Panthers fell short, 68-13, at home against Central Woodstock on Tuesday (Jan. 10), and were defeated by the Dragons, 82-25, at William Monroe on Friday (Jan. 13).

In the first quarter of the William Monroe game, “we were doing really good,” sophomore Tanyon Lee said, “rebounding the ball really well and hanging with them. We were 12-6 and keeping up. Then the second quarter came around and slowed our momentum. We weren’t working together as much. Half time gave us a break, but we came back out and went downhill from there. We weren’t bonding, and everything just went flat. Fourth quarter was the worst.

“The first half was the best part of the game,” Lee said. “After that, it slowed a lot. But when you realize you’re losing badly, you go to work with your team and do what you can.”

“We started out really strong,” fellow sophomore Evan Hitt said. “We got sloppier because we were getting tired. Our team has hardly any substitutes, and we get really tired after three quarters. When you start getting tired, you don’t shoot as well or play defense as well.

“Wednesday night against Manassas Park,” Hitt said, “we want to come out strong again in the first quarter and keep the lead.”

Panther boys met the Manassas Park Cougars on the road Wednesday night (Jan. 18). Results will appear in next week’s Rappahannock News. Friday night (Jan. 20), the Panthers travel to take on the Strasburg Rams. Tip off is 7:45.

– M.D.

JP boys pick up a win in Warren County

Junior Panthers prowled into Wildcat territory and took down Warren County, 33-23, on Tuesday night (Jan. 17). “Jackson Strickler led the team in scoring with 15,” coach Robbie Thornhill said, “and Brandon Rutherford added points. Michael Cooke played great defense shutting down their best scorer after the first quarter.”

The JP basketball boys dribble into Mountaineer territory to take on Madison County tonight (Jan. 19) at 5:15 p.m.

– M.D.

Lady Panthers suffer two gallant losses

In a two-game week, Lady Panthers varsity basketball lost at home to Central Woodstock, 68-13, on Jan. 10 and succumbed to the power of the Dragons at William Monroe (47-19) last Friday (Jan. 13.)

The William Monroe game “was another gallant effort by the girls,” coach Rich Hogan said, “keeping pace with a much larger and much more experienced squad from a school that is the largest single A in the state. Maddie Kopjanski and Lauren Light again lead the scoring. Other basket-makers like Lily Endre and Jane Purnell came off the bench with quality play as well.”

“They’re a really good team,” co-captain Kopjanski said. “We have played them before, so we went out and tried really hard and kept them under 50. We made it to double digits and held them back with our defense. At times, when we worked together as a unit, we shut them down.

“I think we’re definitely getting a little disappointed that we haven’t won that much,” she said. “We’re coping in our own ways, and we are developing. From the beginning of season to now, we’ve advanced in our ball-handling skills. When we started, we had girls who’d never handled a ball. Now, they’re on the court, learning how to dribble, pass and do a lay-up better. Even though we’re not winning right now, we are all working together.

“The work we’ve been doing is the work to get all of us on the same page,” Kopjanski said. “Some of us have been doing this for a very long time, and others are new…so the advanced people are trying to help the younger ones. Our relationships are great with the younger players. They don’t get as much playing time, but they’re there and they’re encouraging. It’s cool to get to know them and feel like a role model.

“I’m focused now on letting some of the more difficult games go and just have some fun,” she said. “The mentality is to not worry about the score but to develop as a team. Then, we can carry on, get better and hopefully win some games.”

The Panthers will be on the road this week. Wednesday night (Jan. 18) they traveled to Manassas Park to meet the Cougars. Results will appear in next week’s Rappahannock News. Friday night (Jan. 20) the girls confront Strasburg in Rams’ territory.

– M.D.

Wakefield junior on his year in Riyadh

Courtesy photo

At a weekly assembly just after the holiday break, Wakefield Country Day School student Henry Johnson made a presentation to schoolmates on his year of studying abroad. Johnson is spending his junior year in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, where his father is working.  

Johnson described his attendance at the British International School and his home life in a Saudi neighborhood, the fact that he’s the lone American in a class with British, Scottish and Arabian classmates from countries throughout the Middle East, and played a video he prepared on Saudi Arabia’s geography, history, government and modern-day issues of terrorism, oil, wealth and women’s rights.

Johnson told the assembly he was enjoying learning about different people and their cultures, that he felt safe getting around in Riyadh, where he often goes to the mall with his new friends and running in the desert with a local group called the Hash House Runners.

– contributed reports

Griffin’s second trip from points A to Bee

Douglas GriffinCourtesy photo
Douglas Griffin

For the second straight year, sixth-grader Douglas Griffin won the Wakefield Country Day School’s competition of the National Geographic Bee and will move on to the next round in the national championship.

The school-level Bee, at which students answer oral geography questions, is the first round in the 23rd annual competition, sponsored this year by the National Geographic Society and Google.

Griffin, of Broad Run, did miss one question at the Bee during the two-wrong-answer elimination first round of the competition, but answered all of the questions in the final round perfectly. He defeated nine other Wakefield competitors and now takes a written test for school winners. Up to 100 top scorers in Virginia will be eligible to compete in the state bee in April. State champions and a teacher-escort then move on to the finals in Washington, D.C. on May 22-24.

– contributed reports