In his first match at the Dulles District wrestling tournament last weekend, Broad Run freshman Tyler Hoskinson was matched against Potomac Falls sophomore Ben Poore, top seed in the 103-pound weight class. After holding off Poore for two periods, Hoskinson was pinned just 17 seconds into the third period.
According to the seedings, Hoskinson wasn't supposed to beat Poore, so the loss didn't come as a surprise. But because of Broad Run Coach Ed Steele's plan, the rest of Hoskinson's day wasn't either.
Last Friday, during the only practice the Spartans and the rest of the county's teams had before the district tournament, Steele had looked at the bracket with his wrestlers to help them assess their chances. In Hoskinson's case, Steele detailed the most likely scenario -- a consolation-round meeting with Stone Bridge freshman Kevin Eberling, who had defeated Hoskinson, 8-6, this season.
"I showed him, and he understood," Steele said. "He trusted my judgment . . . and was comfortable with it. So we prepared for [Eberling] as well."
Hoskinson's 12-0 major decision over Eberling clinched a berth in the Region II tournament at Sherando on Friday and Saturday -- the top four wrestlers in each weight class advanced -- and a spot in the third-place match. He registered a first-period pin against Heritage freshman Vincent Rafter and is one of 11 Spartans regional qualifiers.
"I felt better prepared," Hoskinson said. "I knew what to do."
For coaches and wrestlers, the primary goal may be victory, but after that hope is dashed, individuals must lose again before being eliminated. Just as at the district tournament, the top four finishers at the region tournament will qualify for the next step -- the Virginia AA tournament in Salem on March 7-8.
Broad Run's 11 regional qualifiers were the most among area schools, and Potomac Falls, Park View and Fauquier each had 10. All 10 of the Panthers' qualifiers made the finals of their weight classes. For the Spartans, Patriots and Falcons, at least five wrestlers survived the consolation rounds.
Park View sophomore Brad Reedy was seeded second at 135 pounds but lost his first-round match to Stone Bridge senior Chad Daniels, the eventual champion who was seeded seventh only because he had not wrestled enough at that weight. The draw and loss were disappointing, but Reedy recovered and finished third.
"Once a kid drops on the bottom bracket, sometimes they fight harder," Park View Coach Greg Mitchell said. "Everyone is fighting just as hard. A lot of them wrestler better. The pressure on them in the upper [championship] bracket can be overwhelming, and when they get in the consolations, their confidence level goes up."
Reedy wrestled well, winning by pin in each consolation match, and said he was more prone to be aggressive knowing that another loss could have ended his season.
"It's a lot easier to relax," he said. "I wrestled a lot better and was less scared" to make the first move for a takedown.
Although Potomac Falls didn't have to deal with the consolation rounds often at the district tournament, the Panthers may well have to on the next two weekends.
"Their personal goal is to get to the state tournament," Coach Kris Kelican said. "Then, hopefully, the individual goals should still help the team goal. . . . Once they lose, the kids shouldn't need much motivation."