by Lisa Hinton-Valdrighi
Coach Craig Oren will take four wrestlers to Salem Civic Center this weekend for the Group 1A/2A championships.
Lancaster’s Adam Wilmore, Deandrae Wade, Dominique Veney and Will Parker all qualified at last Saturday’s Region 1A East tournament at Riverheads High School to earn a shot at state gold. The state championships are Friday and Saturday, February 17-18, in Salem.
The Red Devils had nine compete in the regional match with four qualifying for the state championships. Lancaster also has one alternate.
“We really struggled throughout this whole tournament,” said Oren. “We just couldn’t seem to get on a roll or catch any breaks. Even before the tournament, we lost three of our wrestlers because of injures or sickness in the days leading up to the event. Then we didn’t have the match-ups we wanted in the brackets.”
Lancaster’s nine wrestlers scored 75 points to finish ninth among 12 teams. Host Riverheads scored 238.5 points as the Region 1A East champion. Northampton scored 164 points as the runner-up and Rappahannock County finished with 153 for third. Lancaster had the best finish among Northern Neck teams, while Tidewater’s Middlesex was fifth with 114.5 points and Mathews was sixth with 105 points.
Northumberland’s Caleb Davis was the regional champion at 152 pounds and was named the Region 1A East’s wrestler of the tournament. Scott Swats of Riverheads was the coach of the tournament.
Lancaster took two silver medals with regional runner-ups freshman Adam Wilmore and sophomore Dominique Veney and one bronze with third place finisher senior Deandrae Wade.
Wilmore qualified for the state tournament as the runner-up in the 195-pound weight class. Wilmore went 2-1, losing his only match of the tourney to defending state champion Alex Deihl of Riverheads.
“Adam looked very impressive in the early rounds of the tournament, by pinning his first two opponents,” said Oren. “He seems to be peaking at the right time and has some real potential for the state tournament.”
Wilmore pinned Trevon Foster of Cumberland and Jacob Dalton of Mathews after receiving a first-round bye.
Veney, wrestling at 132, went 2-1 as the runner-up after losing to last year’s state runner-up Hunter Sams of Riverheads in the final.
Wade took third at 120 pounds with a 3-1 record for the tournament. Wade won his third place match by decision over Quentin Woodward of Rappahannock County and pinned Kaleb Carson of Essex. He won his first match with a pin of Cameron Morgan of Middlesex then lost by decision to Caleb Sadler of Mathews.
“Deandrae wrestled well in this tournament,” said Oren. “He lost a close one in the semifinals to Sadler. Deandrae has battled back and forth with Sadler this season, with both handing each other a loss. But his consolation final was his best match when he avenged an earlier season loss, winning in the final seconds over Woodward.”
Junior Will Parker placed fourth among 138-pounders after going 1-2 to earn a trip to the state tournament. Parker avenged an early season loss to Northampton’s Cody Goller but lost twice to Sam Barnes of Rappahannock County. Barnes was a sixth-place finisher in last year’s state tournament.
“I thought Will wrestled tough, but Barnes uses his leverage well with his tall lanky body and it seems to give Will a lot of trouble.”
Senior John Martin won three matches to finish fifth at 145 pounds as a state alternate.
“John wrestled well this weekend, but came up just short of a fourth-place qualifying spot when he lost to Matt Oczkowski from Stonewall Jackson in the final seconds. John’s losses came to the champion [in his weight class] and the third place wrestler. The brackets put him in a tough spot in an already tough weight class that had five returning state qualifiers from last year.”
Middlesex had four wrestlers place among the top four at regionals to qualify for the Group 1A championships including Noah Cannon (106), Derron Cooke (113), Jack Ruark (126), Manuel Fernandez (145).
Davis was Northumberland’s only state qualifier as the gold medalist among 152-pounders. He went unbeaten in the tournament at 3-0 with a first-round bye. He pinned Quinton Dixon of Mathews in his first match, then pinned Sean Marsh of Northampton in his second bout. He won the championship with a pin of Caleb Fauver of Stonewall Jackson.
Lancaster took five others to the regional tournament including sophomore Ethan Eppihimer (106), junior Alyssa Meadows (126), junior Leanne Nguyen (106), sophomore Jacob Taft (152) and freshman heavyweight Cedrick Ward.