STUARTS DRAFT — Placing nine of its wrestlers in the finals, Wilson Memorial took top honors at Saturday's 31st News Leader Invitational held at Stuarts Draft High School, scoring a team total of 214.5 points.
"We had a good effort on the mat," said Wilson Memorial coach Chris Robinson. "We didn't break down last night until about 11 p.m. at our place and then we were at it again today at 6:45 (a.m.). That's a quick turnaround and we were tired, but we pushed through."
Wilson had participated in a tough tri-meet on Friday night, but had enough left in the tank to grapple its way to victory.
Fort Defiance outpointed Alleghany for second place, edging the Mountaineers 176-172 to take runner-up placement.
The Indians came on strong in the later rounds.
"We had a valuable lesson and had to eat some humble pie," said Fort coach Gary Kinzer after the early rounds.
But the Indians had their sights set on Alleghany for second place.
"We are very young and we've gotten better," Kinzer said.
Host Stuarts Draft finished fourth, with all four of its finalists winning in the championship round.
"We did OK and our four finalists did what we expected," said Draft coach Abe Mikell. "This was good for us in working toward regionals."
Stuarts Draft senior Boogie Saunders was named Outstanding Wrestler of the Tournament, voted on by the nine coaches.
"It means a lot," Saunders said. "This is the first time I've won this honor in my high school career."
Saunders picked up a last-second takedown of Wilson's Marshall Hubbard in the 152-pound bout to win a tight 3-1 decision in what would prove to be the most exciting match of the day.
"I would have liked to have scored more points today, but it was important because now I'm just two wins away from 100 in my career."
Stuarts Draft junior Daniel Parkulo started the championship round with a technical fall over Alleghany's Dontae Miller at 106 punds. Saturday's three wins kept Parkulo undefeated.
Other local champions included Fort Defiance sophomore Ty Thornton (120 pounds), Stuarts Draft junior Luke Heller (126), Wilson junior Spencer Brandt (132), Wilson senior Matthew Holmes (138), Stuarts Draft junior Asher Coffey (145), Grace Christian junior Aidan Ivers (160), Wilson junior Luke Bailey (195) and Wilson junior Coby Sprouse (220).
Taking runner-up places on the podium were Brayden Estes of Wilson, Gus Pananas of Grace Christian, Derek Wakefield of Wilson, Hubbard of Wilson (see above), Alex Plonsky of Fort Defiance, Kyle Wingfield of Wilson, Neo Roadcap of Fort Defiance, Jesse Cook of Fort Defiance and Wilson's Cameron Sprouse.
Also making the podium in third place were Chavieon Strother (Staunton), Wyatt Fitzgerald (Fort Defiance), Brian Habel (Wilson), Jeffery Hildebrand (Buffalo Gap), Nolan Simmons (Buffalo Gap), Bryce Hildebrand (Buffalo Gap), Gabe Stracener (Fort Defiance), Corbyn Bryant (Fort Defiance), Wayne Marshall (Staunton) and Scott Shiflet (Buffalo Gap).
Other team scores were Stuarts Draft (122 points), Buffalo Gap (110), Madison County (91), Covington (90), Grace Christian (73) and Staunton (71).
Wilson Memorial is back in action on Wednesday with a Shenandoah District Tri-Meet with Stuarts Draft and Staunton, while Stuarts Draft will compete in the Western Albemarle Invitational next weekend.