Statesmen open 2-1 on mat

Published 10:22 am Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Randolph-Henry High School varsity wrestling team saw its first action of the 2016-17 season Wednesday evening, emerging from a tri-match at Cumberland High School with a 2-1 record.

Dean Schwartz, head coach for Randolph-Henry, said the match against Goochland High School was closer than the Statesmen would have liked, but they ended up winning 41-35.

Randolph-Henry senior Zach Tharpe, a 120-pounder, started his team off well with a 10-1 major decision over his opponent. Chris Nichols, a 126-pounder, followed that up with a quick pin. Competing in the 132-pound weight class, Michael Nichols won his match 16-10.

The Statesmen suffered losses in the 138-, 145- and 152-pound classes, but key highlights for them lay ahead.

“The match of the night for us was at 160 pounds,” Schwartz said. “Senior first year wrestler John Walker showed heart and perseverance and just outlasted his opponent. Into the third period, the Goochland wrestler could barely crawl back to the center of the mat when they went out of bounds. John saw this weakness and pinned the other wrestler for his first win of his career. It was hard-fought and well-earned.”

Danny Parrish, in the 182-pound class, lost by pin to a tough Goochland wrestler. After a couple of forfeits, 285-pounder Caleb Calhoun won his match by pin. Randolph-Henry got a forfeit at 106 pounds, giving it a 37-35 lead in points. The team win came down to the last match.

“Travis Adams showed his strength, endurance and wrestling skill with a 12-2 major decision over Goochland’s Hunter Mckinney to win the match for R-H,” Schwartz said.

Against Cumberland, the Statesmen earned a lot of points through forfeits on their way to a 41-24 victory. Adams lost in the 120-pound class to one of Cumberland’s most experienced wrestlers, Ricky Kirby. After more forfeits, Christopher Nichols, a 126-pounder wrestling in the 132-pound class, won by technical fall, 22-5. Chandler Newcomb (138 pounds) followed this up with a quick pin.

After several more forfeits, Parrish won a close match with a 10-8 decision. Franklin Morton, a 182-pound wrestler, lost by pin in the 195-pound class to a very tough Raheem Rumsey.  Calhoun wrapped things up with a close 6-5 decision.

Randolph-Henry lost 48-33 to Nottoway High School.

After a couple of early losses by freshmen wrestlers, Tharpe came through big with a pin in the 120-pound class.

“Chris Nichols underestimated Nottoway’s 126-pound wrestler Gabriel Garcia-Cruz and lost by pin,” said Schwartz, who expressed confidence Nichols will rebound in the future. “This match should be a great one throughout the rest of the season, and both wrestlers should go on to the state tournament.”

Michael Nichols and Chandler Newcomb each pinned their opponents.

Though they are both 138-pound wrestlers, Izaia Foster and Billy French wrestled at 145 and 152, respectively, working hard but coming up short in their matches.

Walker put forth a good effort but could not defeat Vaughan Robertson, the Cougars’ returning state qualifier.

Parrish earned a decision, and Morton and Calhoun pinned their opponents.

The Statesmen lack wrestlers to fill the 170-pound and 220-pound classes, and Schwartz also had to push lighter competitors up to heavier classes.

“The two weight classes we don’t have cost us 12 points,” Schwartz said. “There are 14 weight classes. Against Nottoway, we had 12 weight classes that actually wrestled. Of those 12 matches, we won six and Nottoway won six. So the points didn’t go our way, but we match up pretty well against Nottoway.”

He was pleased with the way the Statesmen worked, fought and tried out the moves and skills that he and his staff have been teaching in practice.

“They earned these wins,” Schwartz said. “Myself and Coach Zack Mowery are extremely proud of this team and can’t wait to see how great they become as the season progresses.”

When the Statesmen return to the mat Dec. 27-28, they will be taking on the highly difficult challenge of competing in The Agie Skeens Memorial Tournament in Grundy.

Randolph-Henry will host a match Wednesday, Jan. 11 at 6 p.m., facing off against Amelia County High School, Bluestone High School and Nottoway.

The Statesmen’s home wrestling tournament, the Court House Classic, is set for Saturday, Jan. 21, starting at 9 a.m.