The Panther varsity wrestling team hosted the first-ever Panther Duals Saturday at the Rappahannock County High School gym in an afternoon that included outstanding matches by several team members and a promising overall performance that kept an enthusiastic hometown crowd happy.
“We are getting better every time we step onto the mat,” said Coach Jamie Harris. “Rome was not built in a day. The coaching staff and I are building the foundation with these great kids we get to work with every day. We may be very vocal and demanding of what we expect and ask of the team, but we love them to death and I truly believe at the Northern Sectionals on Feb. 6, that little ol’ Rappahannock has a big surprise waiting for the competition.”
Seven other teams besides Rappahannock attended the Duals tournament, including William Monroe, Washington & Lee, James Wood, Warren County, Forest Park and Randolph Macon Academy. The eighth team was a “bandit” team made up of backup wrestlers from all the other teams.
The Panthers finished 1-2 in the pool competition and went 2-3 for the day for a fifth-place finish. Going 5-0 for Rapp were CJ Sidrow (103), who had three pins, and Zack Armor (112), who finished with two pins.
Finishing at 4-1 were Julious Lucas (140), Daniel Clement (145) and Aiden DeMolli (HWT). Picking up pins on the day also were Matt Lombardi, Smith Clifton and Britt Hipple (Bandits).
Toward the team score, Rappahannock’s wrestlers lost two tight matches. In the first, the Panthers fell to RMA, 39-36, then the Panthers defeated James Wood, 48-36. In the third match, the Panthers battled next-door rival Warren County in a intense contest, before falling 54-30. In the fourth match, Rappahannock matched up against Group A rival Washington & Lee — a Top 10-ranked team in the state. It was an emotionally brutal match that saw Rappahannock clinging to a 36-31 lead going into the last match before falling 37-36. In the fifth and final match, the Panthers defeated William Monroe 48-36 behind pins from Sidrow and DeMolli.
The two wins in the Panther Duals gave the team seven on the season, a new school team record. With district duals only a week away, the tournament gave the Panther grapplers some great mat time and showed the team the things they need to work on to pull off some upsets next week.
The tournament also helped put a record number of Panther wrestlers in double digits for the win column. They’re led by Sidrow at 23-5, Daniel Clement at 19-6, Julious Lucas at 15-6, Zack Armor at 16-12, DeMolli at 15-10 and Carly Day at 12-15.