Just when it looked like he would have to go the distance for the first time this season, Madison heavyweight Jacob Sacra turned a stubborn Cameron Sprouse of Wilson Memorial to his back to secure the fall at the 5:21 mark to claim first-place in the division at Saturday’s 31st Daily News Leader Wrestling Tournament at Stuarts Draft High School.
The individual style tournament included nine teams with trophies to the top two teams and medals to the top three wrestlers in each weight class, plus recognition of the top wrestler in the tournament.
Sacra, who went 3-0 with all wins by fall, paced a depleted Madison team that had just eight wrestlers in the mix. After Sacra, Madison’s best was Christian Corbin who finished in third place at 220 pounds.
Narrowly missing the medal cut were Sam Pequignot (113), Jack Bourdon (138) and Corey Helmick (170) who all wound up in fourth place.
Chris Dallas (132) went 2-2 but did not place, while Evan Sabine (120) went 1-2 and Joey Johnson (106) went two and out.
Team-wise, Wilson Memorial tallied 214.5 first-place points, well ahead of runner-up Fort Defiance which finished with 176 points.
Alleghany finished in third place with 172 points followed by Stuarts Draft (122 points), Buffalo Gap (110), Madison County (91), Covington (90), Grace Christian School (75) and Staunton, formerly R.E. Lee High, which finished last with 71 points.
Skyler “Boogie” Saunders (152) of Stuarts Draft was named the tournament’s “Most Outstanding Wrestler.”
Back to the Mountaineers, Sacra pinned his way to the finals. His first victim was Donovan Luders of Stuarts Draft (2:36), and later Staunton’s Jacob Call in much less time, 0:14.
In the finals, he scored a takedown and led Sprouse 2-0 after the first period and added an escape and a takedown in the second to lead 4-0 going into the third. Sprouse had choice and chose the neutral position. Sacra scored his second takedown but still had difficulty turning Sprouse’s shoulders to the mat until the 5:21 mark, or with just 39 seconds remaining.
Sacra ran his unbeaten record this season to 22-0 with 18 of those victories by fall and the other four by claiming forfeits.
Corbin opened with a quick win by fall (0:35) over Chance Diaz of Buffalo Gap, but then dropped a 6-2 decision Coby Sprouse of Wilson Memorial which sent Corbin to the consolation rounds where the best possible finish was third place.
Corbin responded with another quick fall (0:20), this time against Daniel Worrell of Fort Defiance, which sent Corbin into the consolation finals against Buffalo Gap’s Jacob Carter.
The bout went the distance and Corbin, who scored two takedowns and three sets of back points, won by major decision, 12-3. He improved his season record to 13-4.
Pequignot, Bourdon and Helmick all had opportunities to medal but came up short for distinctively different reasons.
In the consolation finals, Pequignot faced Buffalo Gap’s Wyatt Fitzgerald for the second time in the tournament. Earlier in the day, Pequignot pinned Fitzgerald in just 1:36. With third place on the line, Pequignot looked like a sure winner after he built a 5-0 lead in the first period.
In the second, he scored a takedown and led 7-0, but Fitzgerald reversed him and put him to his back to secure the fall at the 1:39 mark.
On the day, Pequignot went 3-2 and improved his season record to 14-10.
Bourdon’s bid for a third-place finish produced the most bizarre event of the day. Known for his aggressive style, the Mountaineer senior battled Buffalo Gap’s Nolan Simmons in the consolation finals. Bourdon started out in usual fashion with a quick takedown. Moments later, Simmons rose to his feet and Bourdon promptly returned him forcefully to the mat. The official stopped the action and penalized Bourdon a point for the slam, or unnecessary roughness. Meanwhile, Simmons lay in apparent agony and trainers rushed over to attend to him.
Eventually, Simmons was deemed unable to continue and Bourdon was disqualified and finished fourth as a result. For Simmons, a stretcher and then a gurney transported him out of the gymnasium with the extent of his injury unknown.
Previously, Bourdon appeared poised to compete in the championship finals because he faced a familiar opponent in the semis whom he had pinned earlier this season.
Grace Christian School’s Gus Panagos had fallen victim to Bourdon’s pinning combinations back on Dec. 4 when Bourdon needed just 0:37 to pin Panagos. But this time was different. Though Bourdon started quickly and built a 7-0 lead, he unexpectedly found himself going into the second period. Bourdon won choice and deferred. Panagos selected the top position and immediately began working his legs into the body of Bourdon which set him off his match. After collecting three back points, Panagos turned Broudon to his back again and this time for good as the fall came at the 2:53 mark.
Earlier in the tournament, Bourdon pinned Reese Ortiz of Stuarts Draft (0:39) in the quarterfinals.
On the day, Bourdon went 2-2 and extended his season record to 16-7, all wins by fall.
Helmick, after an opening loss to Travis Fridley of Allegheny, immediately fell to the consolation rounds where he battled his way into the consolation finals.
He quickly pinned Wilson Memorial’s Rafael Abdulaev (0:30) and next stuck Sam Banta of Grace Christian School (2:11) to advance to the finals. There, he tangled with Tristan Moffett of Fort Defiance. They wrestled through two competitive periods before Moffett gained control in the third, first with an escape, and next with a takedown that he quickly converted into a pinning combination at the 3:41 mark.
Helmick finished the day at 2-2 and is now 11-11 on the season with ten of those victories by fall.
Dallas also went 2-2 but, unlike his teammates, had to wrestle in the first round without the benefit of a bye and automatic advancement to the quarterfinals.
Dallas pinned Evan Bragg of Buffalo Gap (1:54) to get to the quarters where Trey Moffett of Grace Christian greeted him rudely with a pin at the 1::05 mark.
In the consolation rounds, he first claimed a forfeit which moved him into the semis where Kaleb Stacener of Fort Defiance overcame a 3-0 deficit by scoring a reversal and then getting Dallas to his back for the pin (2:45).
For Madison, the event represented the team’s first return to competitive action since Dec. 21 when it hosted the annual “Mountaineer Classic.” The Mountaineers were scheduled to host a quad on Jan. 8, but inclement weather forced a cancellation.
This week, Madison was scheduled to travel to Strasburg on Wednesday to compete in a quad and this Saturday travels to Fluvanna County High School for the Fluvanna Invitational.