Survival-style wrestling propelled the Panthers to several stellar personal finishes in last Saturday’s (Feb. 5) Northern Sectionals tournament in Manassas Park.
Two Rappahannock wrestlers earned the right to advance to the Region B tournament this weekend (Feb. 12) in Strasburg. They are sophomore 103-pounder CJ Sidrow, who finished third, and freshman 119-pounder Dylan Hitt, who finished fourth. Other teammates posted admirable finales to their personal seasons. Amrit Tamang (140), Logan Vest (215), and Britt Hipple (heavyweight) all finished fifth and will be alternates. Cody Casey (125) and Patrick Foley (145) ended in sixth place.
Sidrow used a quarterfinal third-round pin against Madison’s Jacob Welch to advance to the championship semifinals. There, according to coach Jamie Harris, “he dropped an 8-4 decision to eventual champion Gilbert Rodriguez of Manassas Park.” Sidrow then picked up a pin of George Mason’s Max Aifer in the consolation semi-finals followed by another faceoff with Welch. The last showdown set up Sidrow for third and fourth where he delivered a pin in 58 seconds to gain the third spot.
Hitt enjoyed a bye to the championship semifinals but lost an 8-3 decision to Manassas Park’s Ember Gaiten. He once again stepped onto the mats against Andrew Good of Stonewall Jackson in the consolation semifinals and took a 14-2 major decision. In the third- and fourth-place match, Kaleb Orndorff of Central-Woodstock got the pin.
“After I got that bye in my first round, I lost to a kid I lost to in districts — again,” Hitt said. “Then I beat a kid from Stonewall Jackson by 13 points but got destroyed in my consolation finals match. I just didn’t wrestle the way I should’ve wrestled. I’ll probably get to see him again at regionals.
“The person I’m gunning for beat me in the semifinals. He’s only beat me by two points and one point twice before. I can beat him, but I gotta show up and wrestle. My biggest match coming up this Saturday is my first match. He is the number one seed in the Southern Section . . . The best way for me to get to states is for me to win my first match. Two wins gets me there!”
Harris chronicled his other athletes’ matches: “Hipple may have had one of the day’s biggest upsets, when he dropped his first-round match by a pin, then faced off with Derek Nicholson, a Madison wrestler who pinned Hipple two times this season.” Nicholson came in as a potential state qualifier and was ranked in the top six, but Hipple used great defensive counter wrestling to see a 10-2 major decision that eliminated the Mountaineer from competition. In the fifth- and sixth-place match, Hipple faced off with Cody Neal of Central-Woodstock and gained a first-round pin to finish fifth.
Tamang and Vest both fought hard to wrestle back and earn fifth place. “Tamang hit a beautiful Dresser Dump to pin his Central Woodstock opponent in the second period,” coach Harris described, “and Vest pinned his Central-Woodstock opponent in the second period, as well.”
Foley pulled off an upset win in the consolation quarterfinals when he came from behind to pin his George Mason opponent. Casey, the only senior on the team, finished sixth and ended his Panther wrestling career with a heartbreaking 5-3 loss in the final seconds.
“The two who made it to the regionals — I knew they would make it,” coach Harris said. “I was hoping to get three to six guys in, but sometimes things don’t work out that way. I was very proud of the five who wrestled back to finish fifth and sixth. It takes a lot of heart and guts once you lose and the chance for a region trip is bleak, yet you choose to wrestle back. Team wise, even though we finished last, I thought that we gained a lot of respect. When you have Manassas Park coaches complimenting the toughness and attitude of your team. That just says great things about the future of Panther wrestling.
“As for regionals, I know there will be hard work this week. There is a great chance to qualify. At this time in the season it is simple — go out and wrestle. The ones who want it the most and have the most heart and competitive fire, regardless of muscle size or skill level, well . . . they will be the ones moving on to compete for a state title.”
The next opportunity to advance is this Saturday (Feb. 12) at the Region B tournament in Strasburg.