Wrestling is back in Virginia! Sorry if you heard that once or perhaps twelve times on Sunday, but we’re all excited that live competition has returned to the Commonwealth. Yesterday, Top of the Podium played host to the first Vengeance in Virginia Dual. Top-ranked wrestlers from around the state descended upon the phenomenal training facility in Sterling to compete against one another in this showcase event.
The card contained 17 matches between highly decorated Virginia high schoolers and was anchored by a main event that featured a pair of Virginia natives, wrestling for Virginia colleges. Seven minutes were not enough for Sam Braswell (Averett), as he took down Levi Englman (Ferrum), in a battle of collegiate All-Americans. Both are former Virginia state champions, with Braswell winning for Matoaca, while Englman grabbed a pair for Colonial Forge.
The high school portion of ViV saw four number-one ranked wrestlers in action, though as well all know, rankings are just a number. Two of those wrestlers were defeated amongst an incredible afternoon of action. In the only number one versus number two battle, Jesse Alvarado (Great Bridge) rallied from an early deficit to maintain his top-billing against second-ranked Zane Cox (Benedictine), 3-2. The other number one to prevail was local star, Zach Rios (Loudoun County). One of only two Loudoun wrestlers in the event, Rios was never seriously threatened by Parker Trahan (Brooke Point), as he cruised to a 3-0 win.
On the other end of the spectrum, #1 Trevon Gray (Oscar Smith) got into a 5-0 hole after one period to #6 Owen Rawls (Nansemond River). Though Gray rallied late, he could not overcome that early hole and fell, 9-6. Owen was not expected to compete at ViV and took the match on less than 24 hours’ notice. Sunday was not as kind to Owen’s older brother, Evan. Evan entered the day as the top-ranked 120 lber in the state. He was picked apart, 6-3, by #5 Mac Cafurello (Centreville) in the final match of the second session. The card was broken down into three, six-match sessions to give sufficient time to clean the mats in between sessions and clear the spectators’ gym to keep up with local ordinances.
The future looks bright for Virginia wrestling as three freshmen got their hands raised and each was impressive in their own right. Noah Hall (Liberty - Bealton) got the day started with a pin over Thomas Potton (Union). The two had met last year in the VAWA finals and that time, it was Potter who did the pinning. Kyle Csikari (Spotsylvania) also ended his match by fall. He trailed Mitchell Faglioni (St. Christopher’s) for the first two periods, but brought the big moves out in the third. After a few unsuccessful attempts, Csikari kept Faglioni on his back to win via pin with only :44 left on the clock. Brycen Arbogast (Benedictine) went up a weight class to shut out Jerry Simon (Deep Run), 6-0. Arbogast was brutal on top, particularly in the second period.
There were also two matches that involved some of the state’s top girls. An early takedown for Charlee Shuler (Grassfield) proved to be the difference in a 2-1 win over 5A state qualifier, Brianna Ta (Thomas Jefferson). The second girl’s bout saw a wild finish. Eryn Hubble (Tuscarora) was resourceful and recorded a defensive fall in only 1:01 over Kaylee Anderson (Clarke County). Hubble was the other Loudoun County high schooler in action Sunday.
One of the driving forces behind the matchmaking was a chance to get small school kids a shot against their adversaries from larger schools. The only 1A wrestler in the event, #8 Eli Fortuner (Rural Retreat), brought the crowd to their feet again and again with his raw power. He tossed #2 Aden Halsey (Hanover) to his back multiple times in a 14-1 major decision. Other dominant performances in the afternoon included St. Christopher’s seniors, #5Jake Keeling and #3 Kevin Schork, who both pinned their opponents. Keeling should rise up the rankings after his first-period fall over Jaheid Lucas (Oscar Smith), while Schork’s came against #11 Josh Seaton (Gloucester). In a battle of seniors, seeking their first state titles, Sean Hall (Powhatan), controlled the entire bout in a 9-1 major decision victory against Joshua Pence (Robinson). #2 Charlie Lopez (Forest Park) showed why he was so highly-touted against #8 Lennon Soaper (Riverbend); however, the bout was stopped late in the third after a collision that injured Soaper. Lopez was declared the winner by injury default.
Three other bouts featured relatively minor upsets. In the second bout of the day, #5 Austin Manning (Cox) was able to outlast late-replacement #3 Zach Ortega (Riverbend), 3-2. #7 Keagan Judd (Sherando) and #5 Trace Ragland (New Kent) engaged in a fun bout that included plenty of flurries and scrambles. The 2020 4A state champion, Judd, was able to come out on top in most of those situations as he took the match, 8-3. #3 Dyson Dunham (Battlefield) had an early takedown against #2 Brenden Barnes (Benedictine) and it held up as he won a tight, 3-2 decision. That was the 16th match of the event but featured some of the most physicality and brutal hand fighting.
Full Final Results for Vengeance in Virginia
Noah Hall fall Thomas Potter 3:40
Austin Manning dec Zach Ortega 3-2
Charlee Shuler dec Brianna Ta 2-1
Eli Fortuner maj Aden Halsey 14-1
Charlie Lopez in def Lennon Soaper
Keagan Judd dec Trace Ragland 8-3
Owen Rawls dec Trevon Gray 9-6
Jake Keeling fall Jaheid Lucas 1:36
Brycen Arbogast dec Jerry Simon 6-0
Kevin Schork fall Josh Seaton 2:45
Jesse Alvarado dec Zane Cox 7-5
Mac Cafurello dec Evan Rawls 6-3
Eryn Hubble fall Kaylee Anderson 1:01
Kyle Csikari fall Mitchell Faglioni 5:16
Sean Hall maj Joshua Pence 9-1
Dyson Dunham dec Brenden Barnes 3-2
Zach Rios dec Parker Trahan 3-0