Winning solo battles

Published 12:09 pm Wednesday, February 6, 2019

There are plenty of reasons the Randolph-Henry High School varsity wrestling team has been worthy of praise lately, and we will highlight some of those reasons here.

This past weekend, the Statesmen placed fourth out of 16 teams at the 2018-19 Virginia High School League (VHSL) Region 1B tournament. This was Randolph-Henry’s best regional finish so far under Head Coach Zack Mowery.

The team will be represented at the 2018-19 VHSL Class 1 state tournament by four wrestlers — senior 132-pounder John Wendelin, junior 145-pounder Chandler Newcomb, senior 182-pounder Layton Payne, the regional runner-up, and junior 170-pounder Danny Parrish, the regional champion.

Parrish is Randolph-Henry’s first regional wrestling champion in 10 years, and four wrestlers is the most the program has sent to the state tourney in 15 years, Mowery said.

At the 2018-19 James River District championships Jan. 15, the Statesmen placed second out of six teams, finishing with four individual champions: Parrish, Wendelin, Newcomb and senior 138-pounder Billy French.

Wrestling is a highly challenging sport. The rounds during a match may seem short to spectators, but matches typically feature an exhausting physical battle between two competitors that requires the victor to have superior technique, discipline and endurance.

While wrestlers’ matches combine to form a team score in many events, each team member must face his battles alone on the mat. Coaches, like Mowery, are typically there, shouting instructions from their corner of the mat, but the wrestler has to execute them — that is if he can hear them over the crowd noise and the sound of the opposing coaches giving their wrestler instructions.

The sport also requires wrestlers to be in shape in a very specific way, conforming to certain weight classes to compete.

The Statesmen, led by their regional champion, four state qualifiers and four district champs, have done what is necessary to succeed on the mat — and succeed at a high level. For this, we commend them.