Wildcats Fifth At Regionals

Four RC Wrestlers Advance To State Tourney

Four Rockbridge County High School wrestlers advanced to the Class 3 state tournament, and the Wildcats placed fifth of 14 teams at the Region 3C tournament on Sunday at Western Albemarle.

The regional tournament had been postponed from Saturday to Sunday due to inclement weather.

RC wrestlers advancing by placing in the top two in their weight classes were senior Nick Marando (champion, 160-pounds) and three second-place finishers: seniors Seth Youngblood (170) and David Allio (285/heavyweight) and sophomore Brice Hall (195).

In recent years, the top four wrestlers in each weight class have advanced, but the state tournament is keeping the numbers low this year due to COVID-19, with eight-man brackets.

The Wildcats, who won the Region 3C tournament last year, scored 79 points on Sunday to edge Valley District rival Turner Ashby (sixth, 77.5) and finish a place behind district foe Broadway (fourth, 91).

Reviewing the tournament, RC head coach Aaron Bruce said, “Our kids wrestled hard.” He noted that the Wildcats had the secondmost state qualifiers of any team in the region. “I’m super proud of our young men.”

Because of their delayed start of the season due to a spike in COVID-19 cases in the Rockbridge area, the Wildcats were not allowed to start practicing until Jan. 18, and the regional tournament was only their third competition this season. Bruce said his wrestlers “were placed behind the curve this season due to the fact that Rockbridge administration waited until literally the last week allowed to start practice. The rest of the competition this weekend has been practicing and competing all season.”

Following up on his championship at the Region 3C sectional tournament, Marando advanced to the finals of the regional tournament by pinning Brookville’s Caleb Marshall in 4:15 in the semifinals. In the championship match, Marando defeated Fluvanna County’s Shawn Metcalf in a 1-0 decision. Marando won the regional tournament last year, when he was wrestling at 145-pounds.

In addition to Marando, Youngblood and Allio will be returning to the state tournament.

Youngblood, who won the state championship at 160 last year, moved up to 170 this year. At the regional tournament, he reached the finals by defeating Turner Ashby’s Gabe Ashkeba in a 7-2 decision in the semifinals. In the finals, he lost in a 3-2 decision to LCA’s Toby Schoffstall.

Allio, who placed second at the regional and state tournaments last year in the heavyweight division, reached the finals on Sunday by defeating Broadway’s Yee M. Ung in a 6-2 decision in the semifinals. In the championship match, he was pinned by Wilson Memorial’s Cameron Sprouse in 58 seconds.

Hall, a regional qualifier as a freshman last year, reached the finals on Sunday by pinning Waynesboro’s Lazarus Powell in 5 minutes in the semifinals. In the championship match, he lost to WM’s Coby Sprouse in a 5-2 decision.

Other Wildcats placing in the top six at the regional tournament were Alden Dorey (fifth, 152), Pieter Nelson (sixth, 126) and Jacob Campbell (182).

The state tournament was originally scheduled to take place this Thursday at the Salem Civic Center, but it has been postponed to a date to be determined due to a forecast for a winter storm. Check www.thenews-gazette. com for updates.

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