Randolph-Henry wrestlers advance to state

Published 8:00 am Friday, February 9, 2024

The first step was winning their division title, something that hadn’t been done in more than two decades. Now several members of the Randolph-Henry (R-H) wrestling team are on their way to the state competition, after winning in regionals this past weekend. 

All total, five members of the team placed in the top three in their respective weight classes. Then the group overall finished second in the region. Under Virginia rules, any wrestler that places first, second or third advances to the next level. Landon Jackson left no doubt, earning a spot by taking first place in the 175 lb. division at regionals. David Terrones-Lara and Donovan Blanton are also advancing, after placing second in the 132 lb. and 190 lb weight classes, respectively. Coming in third place was Samantha Van der Weken in the 106 lb. weight class and Tre Wheeler in the 215 lb. weight class. 

Also placing in the Top Ten in their respective classes were Jackson Ruppel-Lee, Aiden Bryant, Trey Endres, Devin McCargo and Cody Doran. Ruppel-Lee and Bryant finished in fourth in the 157 lb and 165 lb weight classes, respectively. Endres came in sixth in the 138 lb group, while McCargo placed sixth in the 150 lb class and Doran was sixth in the heavyweight division. 

“To have almost half our team make it to states shows the determination these athletes have,” said Randolph-Henry Head Coach Chris Weatherford. “Then to have our whole team wrestle their hearts out to place second in the region was a huge accomplishment especially with such a novice team. Coach Erica, Coach Jed, and I are very proud of how our athletes performed.” 

GROWING AND CHANGING 

It’s been a season of growth for the whole team. Last year, there were six members. This year, there are 22. And out of those 22, the majority had never competed in the sport before. Yet, they’ve done nothing but win. We mentioned that for the first time in more than two decades, the Randolph-Henry Statesmen won this year’s James River District Wrestling Championship. Now they’ve finished second at regionals, with five top three finishes. 

“We’re still in shock with the level of success that the team has had this season,” Coach Erica Weatherford said. “We came in looking to grow the team since it was a dying sport in the school, we just never imagined it would be where it is in our first year. This group of kids has amazed us at every turn. Their dedication, determination, and drive is something that is truly inspiring and we couldn’t be any more proud of them and what they’ve accomplished so far. We’re excited to see what the future holds for them!” 

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT? 

So where does the team go from here? The state competition is set for Feb. 16 and Feb. 17 at the Salem Civic Center. Randolph-Henry Principal Erin Davis said the whole school and community was proud of what this team has accomplished. 

“The achievements of the Randolph-Henry wrestling team stand as a testament to their resilience and dedication to excellence,” Davis said. “While celebrating their considerable accomplishments this season, the team remains cognizant of the journey ahead.”