Three-peat: New Kent High School wrestling wins Group 3A state championship
The first time it was pure exhilaration. The second time it was determination. This time, it was pure domination.
For the third consecutive year, New Kent High School’s Trojans wrestling team captured the Group 3A state championship Sunday evening at the Salem Civic Center. Powering the Trojans to the victory include a school-record eight individual state champions.
New Kent accumulated 240.5 points to cruise to the three-peat, easily outdistancing themselves from runner-up Skyline High School (166.0), a team that handed the Trojans their only loss this season. Perennial powerhouse Christiansburg High School placed third in the meet with 115 points.
From the onset, New Kent took control of the championship meet as all 12 of their state participants advanced out of the opening round. At that moment, New Kent continued to exert its dominance.
Kyle Gibson captured the 113-pound division with a 2-0 decision over Skyline’s Josh Domino. Matthew Eberly, who moved up in weight class, earned his second consecutive state championship with a decision win over Skyline’s Phoenix Alyear (3-2). Trace Ragland defeated Bay Rivers District Rival Jacob Seale of York by a 7-0 decision to win the 126-pound bracket, while Evan Holloway took down claimed a decision win over Christiansburg’s Luke Robie 7-2 to capture the 138-pound division. Travis Ragland became a two-time state champ with a 9-1 major decision win over William Byrd’s Xavier Preston, while Nicholas Vafiadis claimed his third consecutive state championship with an 11-2 major decision over York’s David Reid. Brandon Hohman won by technical fall (16-1) over Liberty Christian’s Toby Schoffstall, and Dominic Baker emerged victorious via tiebreaker in a match against Maggie Walker’s R.J. May in the 182-pound division.
Daniel Colgin finished as a state runner-up in the 106-pound bracket, while teammate Ben Johnson also finished in second in the 285-pound division. Patrick Jordan placed third in the 145-pound division, and teammate Nathaniel Fly finished in sixth for the Trojans in the 195-pound division after resigning due to injury.
New Kent head coach Mike Faus talked about the learning experience from the loss to Skyline High School and the joy of winning the third consecutive championship.
“I think that the kids were conceited and believe in the press clippings about how good they were,” Faus said about the loss to Skyline. “They [Skyline] brought us back to earth.”
“Today, they [the kids] wanted it and they wanted it for each other,” the head coach continued. “It was a team effort and the team was rooting for each other.”
He added that his team played the role of fans, something that truly proved to be a motivating factor for the championship.
“We had to be fans for each other, and they moved around in the stands from mat to mat,” Faus added. “It was really strange without fans, but they were cheering and making sure their teammates could hear them and support them.”
The head coach also added his thanks to a few people.
“I have a great coaching staff and I am blessed with a lot of coaches helping us,” Faus commented. “I don’t think we’re a dynasty, but we’re picking it up and we’re a good program.
“I want to also thank New Kent Sheriff’s Office for sending us off,” he added. “It was great for the kids and that is the type of community support that we really appreciate.”