Brentsville Coach Thad Kiesnowski has been waiting a long time to beat county rival Stonewall Jackson in a head-to-head match. On Saturday, he got his best opportunity in years, as the Tigers-Raiders' dual match at the Raider Invitational came down to the final round.
But as has been the case for roughly 25 years, Stonewall Jackson managed to pull out the win. Senior heavyweight Josh Haney narrowly defeated sophomore Burt Schlegel--who normally wrestles in the 215-pound weight class--to give the Raiders a 33-31 victory.
Although Stonewall defeated Brentsville head-to-head, the Tigers edged the Raiders in the overall standings, finishing second with 202 points to Stonewall's 201 points. Ocean Lakes of Virginia Beach won the tournament with 280 points.
The Raider Invitational is based on an unusual scoring system. The five teams--West Potomac and Osbourn also participated--wrestled each other head-to-head, but points were awarded based on a wrestler's record in his weight class.
"I thought we'd give them a good run, and we did," said Kiesnowski, who said his team has not beaten Stonewall since the 1970s. "Personally, I'd like to beat them one time heads-up."
Stonewall entered the final two rounds of its match against Brentsville trailing, 31-24. But the Tigers are without a true heavyweight, and Kiesnowski knew he would have to forfeit either the 215-pound or the heavyweight match. Rather than have Schlegel take on Stonewall's Brian Hastadt--ranked fifth in the state at 215 pounds--Kiesnowski forfeited that round and had Schlegel move up to heavyweight.
The strategy almost paid off, as Schlegel entered the third period of his match against Haney tied at 1. But Haney tallied a two-point takedown and then scored a five-point near-fall to secure the victory.
"It was a real exciting heavyweight match, which is something that you don't always see," said Stonewall Coach Kevin Turner, who was making his debut as head coach this weekend after taking over for longtime Stonewall coach Bill Cameron.
Haney, a backup last season, improved by competing in a number of offseason tournaments and earned a starting spot this year. Turner expects Haney's success to continue throughout the season.
"Here's a kid who may not be athletically gifted, but has such tenacity that he doesn't want to lose," Turner said. "Last year we could not have depended on Josh Haney. This year we obviously can, and hopefully this will not be the last time he will come through for us. I'm real proud of him."
Osbourn placed fifth overall and got fine individual performances from a number of wrestlers. Junior Vincent Nguyen (112 pounds) and senior Cameron Post (135 pounds) won their respective weight classes, and junior Brian Hanifan (189) placed second.
The Eagles start a number of inexperienced but athletic wrestlers who should improve, Coach Leroy Williams said.
"We've got a lot of young guys in the upper weight classes who did well, but it was their first time wrestling varsity matches," Williams said. "We're going to depend on those [older] guys to pick up some wins for us and keep us in dual meets until these guys get some experience and help us out come tournament time."