New Kent High School’s wrestling team repeats as Group 3A state champions
For the second consecutive year, New Kent High School’s wrestling team will bring home a state title.
The Trojans outpointed state rival Christianburg 235.5-216.5 to earn the back-to-back recognition in the Group 3A State Championships held last Friday and Saturday at the Salem Civic Center.
Matthew Eberly started the run of champions for the Trojans at the 106-pound division by earning a pinfall victory over Skyline’s Hunter Salmon in a mere 29 seconds. Patrick Jordon became a state champion at the 138-pound class with a 7-6 decision win over Abingdon’s Jack Newton. Travis Ragland took home the 145-pound title with a 7-1 decision win over Christianburg’s Kip Nininger, while Nicholas Vafiadis repeated as state champion, this time earning a 7-1 decision victory over Abingdon’s Jack Campble in the 152-pound weight class.
Gannon Jones pulled off the unique feat of becoming a four-time state champion. Jones won a major decision over Hopewell’s Jacen Fowlkes 21-2 to pull off the victory.
A pair of Trojans finished as runners-up at the state championships. Trace Ragland lost via decision to Christianburg’s Brandon Crowder 3-0 in the 120-pound weight class, while Brayden Hohman was edged out via decision 8-5 to Rockbridge’s Seth Youngblood, settling for silver.
Other New Kent Trojan wrestlers put together performances, as each finished in sixth place or better. Nathaniel Fly earned the bronze in the 182-pound class with a pinfall victory over Wilson Memorial’s Chase Wilson. Jamar Christian finished in fourth place in the 220-pound division, Raymond Goode earned a fourth-place finish in the 132-pound division, and Daniel Coglin finished sixth in the 113-pound weight class.
Last year, New Kent head coach Mike Faus said that he thought his team was too young to bring home a title. This year, he believes the bond and connection they had throughout the year was the reason for them repeating.
“This year we weren’t the favorite,” Faus said, pointing to two of his athletes who was missing the meet due to injuries. “But we put all of our kids through into the championship round.
“I think they got tighter this year,” he continued. “This year, we wanted to treat this team as family and that is what I think the difference from last year.”
The head coach remained humble when it came to the support his team garnered from the community.
“The community has been very supportive, and I thank them for everything,” Faus added. “At our regional meet, we were praised for how close we were and that is probably the highest compliment we could get.”
As far as next year is concern, Faus loses three seniors, including Jones and Christian.
“We got pretty much everybody else coming back along with a couple of strong middle schoolers,” he said as he wrapped up his interview. “Tonight, I’m taking in this moment once again with this great group of guys.”