New Kent third in regional wrestling; eight Trojans headed to state tournament
A third-place finish was not what New Kent’s Trojans, champions of Conference 25, had in mind entering the two-day 3A East Regional wrestling tournament, especially since the event took place on their mats. After all, in past seasons when New Kent served as host, the Trojans always claimed the team title.
But after Friday’s first day matches, Warren County sat comfortably in front with New Kent locked in a tie for second with arch-rival Poquoson. And when the finals wrapped up late Saturday afternoon, the Islanders edged ahead of the Trojans, relegating the hosts to third.
Warren County had no problem holding first, amassing 244 points to Poquoson’s 209. New Kent totaled 200.
“It’s a little disappointing,” said Trojan head coach Mike Faus. “But we knew Warren County would be the team to beat since they won their conference by a lot. They have no superstars, but they’re solid top to bottom and they’re sending 13 wrestlers to state.”
New Kent, meanwhile, qualified eight, including three regional champions, for next weekend’s state tournament scheduled for Friday and Saturday in Salem. Caden Darber won the 132-pound title while Cade Sanders prevailed at 170 pounds and Trent Ragland captured the 220-pound crown.
Darber is the defending state champ at 132 pounds. Sanders, meanwhile, finished second a year ago at 162 pounds after winning that title a year earlier. Ragland was a fourth-place finisher last season at 182 pounds.
Gannon Jones (106), J.T. Taylor (182), and Jason Godbey (195) finished as runners-ups in Saturday’s regional. Other Trojans headed to state are Eric Taylor (4th, 120) and Shane Weimer (6th, 126).
In Saturday’s final, Darber mixed it up with Warhill’s Trey Drummond before starting to assert dominance about four minutes in and nearly recording a pin. Darber eventually settled for a 12-4 decision.
“This is the third time in two weeks that they have wrestled each other, and Trey found a way to frustrate Caden a little,” Faus said. “I think [Caden] started to think things out. When he figured out what [Drummond] was doing, he made adjustments.
“Caden’s a very intense young man,” the coach went on. “I love his intensity, and I hope he carries it to college.”
Darber has yet to make college plans, but Faus said several offers from prospective schools are under consideration.
Now up to 170 pounds, Saunders cruised through the competition. In the final with Culpeper’s Eric Galloway, he recorded a quick takedown seconds into the match and never trailed before prevailing 6-3.
“Cade is relaxed and laid back and is the polar opposite of Caden,” Faus said. “He goes out there all loosey-goosey but gets it done.”
Ragland, meanwhile, managed a late two-point takedown in his final with York’s Nick Grubbs to gain separation in a close contest. He went on to a 5-1 decision.
“Trent was up against an opponent who’s slow and methodical with a lot of experience, but I thought he was pretty much in control,” said Faus.
New Kent came close to having four region winners advance to state, but a controversial decision in the 106-pound final negated the possibility. With 28 seconds left, New Kent’s Jones recorded a two-point reversal on Poquoson’s Cole McCormick to move ahead 3-2. But with 14 seconds to go, a stalling call awarded McCormick the tying point. Then just before the final buzzer, McCormick earned the winning point on an escape. New Kent coaches protested concerning the stalling call, but to no avail.
“That put us in a really bad situation,” Faus said. “Then we didn’t hold on at the end. Gannon’s 0-3 against their wrestler, but those have been close matches each time.”
In other finals involving New Kent wrestlers, J.T. Taylor dropped a hard fought 8-6 decision to Poquoson’s Robert Henesey at 182 pounds, and Jason Godbey (195) fell behind the Islanders’ Mason Fiscella before being pinned in the final seconds.
Other team scores: Brentsville District 186.5, Manassas Park, 154, Skyline 105.5, York 92, Warhill 85.5, Booker T. Washington 78.5, Spotsylvania 78, Culpeper 53, Petersburg 50, Colonial Heights 49, Phoebus 47, Tabb 43, William Monroe 35, Lakeland 31, Hopewell 29, Armstrong 23, I.C. Norcom 10, Riverside 10, Southampton 7, John Marshall 0.