Two is better than one.
Yeah, that’s twice as nice.
That’s because one is the number of wrestlers that Madison County qualified for last year’s state tournament in Salem, but four is the number that it qualified for this weekend’s main event and season finale.
Last year, heavyweight Jacob Sacra carried the team’s banner and acquitted himself well. He finished third in his weight class and looks to top that finish this weekend.
Three of his teammates will join him to make it a foursome, thanks to their qualification at last Saturday’s 2A, Region B Tournament at Strasburg.
That’s where Sacra won his second regional title in as many tries and where teammates Sam Pequignot (113) also claimed first place, while Christian Corbin (220) finished as runner-up and Jack Bourdon (138) came in third.
Their efforts paced a depleted Mountaineer squad that finished sixth among the nine teams.
Team-wise, the host Rams charged their way to first place with 205 points, well ahead of runner-up Staunton which finished with 107 points. Clarke County came in third with 104.5 points, followed by Buffalo Gap (95 points), Stuarts Draft (94), Madison County (86), East Rockingham (62), Stonewall Jackson (54) and Page County (14).
Individually, Madison also had Evan Sabine (120), Hunter Dallas (126), Jacob Sikora (132), Chris Dallas (145) and Corey Helmick (170) in the mix but they did not qualify for the state.
The Mountaineers did not have wrestlers in the 106, 152, 160, 182 and 195-pound weight classes.
In addition to claiming team honors, Strasburg also celebrated the honor bestowed to Peyton Stickles, the team’s 132-pound district and regional champion who was named the region’s “Wrestler of the Year.”
Stickles, a senior, entered the tournament with an impressive, 25-1, season record. His only loss was by injury default earlier in the season to an opponent from Riverheads High.
Back to the Mountaineers, it came as no surprise that Sacra stood atop the awards podium. As he has done for much of the season, he dwarfed and dominated the competition, claimed both the district and regional titles, and ran his season record to 39 wins against just 3 losses.
But how many people would have predicted that Pequignot, a junior and newcomer to the team, would have found himself atop the heap of 113-pound region wrestlers?
The former Wellsville, Pennsylvania native did so by reversing his fortunes against his adversary, Colin Moran of Clarke County. Their bout for the title in the region finals represented their third meeting this season with Moran up in the series 2-0.
In both their previous matches, Pequignot held his own. In fact, at the district tournament, he led 8-0 and looked on his way to a win by major decision when Moran reversed the tide and pinned Pequignot at 3:39.
In their first meeting of the season, back on Jan. 29, Pequignot built a 13-7 lead before Moran scored a reversal and maneuvered Pequignot to his back and the fall at 4:44.
In the region finals, it looked like history might repeat itself twice.
Pequignot led 8-1 going into the third period when Moran began his comeback bid. He scored a takedown and worked desperately to turn Pequignot to his back. He got close, but not close enough. Pequignot fought through it and prevailed by decision, 8-3.
“I felt like I had the win in this one,” said Peguignot. “The first two times we wrestled I made a mistake and he cradled me both times.”
After Pequignot’s victory, he and his teammates waited patiently for Corbin to take center stage.
Corbin faced a tough adversary in Buffalo Gap’s Seth Fitzgerald, the tournament’s number one seed with a record of 14-3. He scored a quick takedown and turned Corbin to his back for the fall in 1:13.
Sacra followed with the last bout of the evening when he and Conner McCall of Stuarts Draft faced off.
Sacra used a bear hug and trip to take McCall to his back for the fall in just 53 seconds.
Earlier, Bourdon claimed third place when he made short work of Staunton’s Jeffrey Claytor in the consolation finals. Bourdon won by fall in 1:49.
Bourdon opened the tournament with a win by fall in the quarterfinals over Page County’s Aiden Painter (0:31) but lost in the semifinals to Buffalo Gap’s Nolan Simmons who pinned him in 3:05.
In the consolation semifinals, Bourdon stuck Mauricio Ortiz of Stuarts Draft (1:59) to advance to the consolation finals and a must-win situation in order to qualify for the state.
While Pequignot claimed his first regional title, Sacra joined Tyler Atwell and Ethan O’Connell as the only Madison wrestlers to ever win at least two regional crowns.
But the bigger prize is this weekend’s event.
Sacra will look to improve upon last year’s third-place finish while Corbin will be returning to the event after a one-year hiatus and Pequignot will be making the first of what might be two trips to Salem, and Bourdon will make his first and only trip to the big dance.
This weekend’s last hurrah begins on Thursday and concludes Saturday evening.