Orange wrestling: Hornets claim first district title in 10 years

Hornet wrestler Chance Bowers took first place in the 160-pound division Saturday at the Jefferson District Tournament at the Hornet Sports Center.

Last year, the Jefferson District wrestling title came down to the final match as Powhatan edged Orange County for the title.

The Hornets returned the favor Feb. 2 with a 14.5-point victory over the Indians to claim the program’s first district title in a decade.

“It was a big win,” Orange County coach Bryan Seal said. “It’s been 10 years since we’ve been able to bring home a championship here at Orange in wrestling. It’s very important to us. The [kids] worked hard and they earned it. I just had to push them in the room, and they did all the work.”

Seal’s team had nine wrestlers qualify for the championship round and came away with three individual tournament champions as Orange County (212) edged Powhatan (198.5) for the title.

Louisa County (125) finished third, with Albemarle (120) close behind in fourth.

Chance Bowers pinned Albemarle’s Zack Davis in 5:18 to repeat as district champion in the 160-pound division.

“It was good,” Bowers said. “This was actually the only tournament that I won last year, so it’s good to kind of re-live that and it feels really good.”

The senior standout controlled the match from the outset, even after suffering a cut above his eye during the second period. Bowers knows there’s still plenty of work left ahead.

“I really need to work on my conditioning, I know that I can do better,” Bowers said. “It’s at a pretty good point right now, but I know I can work on that. I felt pretty good about my pin, especially after injuring my eye.”

David Steigler claimed top honors in the 138-pound division with a fall over Albemarle’s Nolan Pitsenberger in 3:40.

Taylor Jenkins was crowned champion in the 152-pound division after a disqualification in a match with Louisa County’s Austin Mills. Jenkins suffered an injury following a second period slam. Following an injury timeout, Jenkins was unable to continue and the officials awarded him the match.

Nicky Benner (145), K.J. Taylor (132), Cale Carr (113), Wyatt Mills (106), Alex Burley (195) and Truth Wilson garnered runner-up honors for the Hornets.

Seal said the team’s depth helped secure the title.

“We had some kids that were seeded, they were freshmen or sophomores, so they had no prior state or regional qualifications to bring them into the tournament,” Seal said. “We wrestled a really tough schedule this year, so our record didn’t show it. We had some kids that were No. 4 and No. 5 seeds that actually made it to the championship matches, coming in first or second. That was big for us, because in a championship match, that’s big team points, so that was important to us for sure.”

Blake Wilson (120), Jayden Joseph (126), Wyheem Vessels (182) and Ray Pierce (285) were third and Aaron Ratcliff (170) fourth.

The Hornets hosted the 5D West Region Tournament Friday and Saturday, Feb. 8–9, at the Hornet Sports Center (after deadline).

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