Potomac Falls senior Dan Clark and Broad Run junior Harrison Shipp had another classic match in the 130-pound weight class last week. Their match, however, came far away from the bright lights and cheering fans at the Virginia AA wrestling tournament yesterday.
Clark and Shipp spent the week practicing with other wrestlers from the Dulles District who qualified for the state meet. All 11 qualifiers worked out on Monday and Tuesday at Potomac Falls, and most also worked out there on Wednesday and Thursday.
The state qualifiers had worked out at Stone Bridge last year.
The arrangement this year was particularly helpful for wrestlers like Shipp and teammate Tim Schluderberg and for Loudoun County wrestlers Scott Thompson and Dan Scanlan. They were the only ones from their school who qualified.
It also meant that Shipp worked out with Clark, whom Shipp defeated three times this year.
"It's a help because we wrestle against the same people all year in practice," Clark said. "I go against our 125-pounder, Justin Harman, every day, and by now I pretty much know every move he's going to make, and he knows every move I'm going to make.
"Now we get to go against different people and see different things. Harrison has taught me some of what he does. . . . It's helped."
As someone who faced little competition in the Broad Run wrestling room, according to Spartans Coach Ed Steele, Shipp also relished the chance to practice against the county's best. But he wasn't concerned about giving away his edge.
"I'm not worried about giving away too many secrets," Shipp said. "I still have other moves I haven't taught him."
Potomac Falls Coach Kris Kelican had taken his team to Park View for an informal practice the week before the region tournament.
"They loved it," Kelican said. "As soon as I told them we were going over there, they started cheering. . . . I talk with the other coaches" before the state meet "and tell them what I was thinking we'd work on this week, and they said all right. It's good for the kids. They get to see different styles of wrestling.
"They also get to wrestle against the best competition, and that's the perfect preparation for the state meet. That's where they're going to go against the best."
There is not much joking around in the practices, according to Kovash Dastan, Potomac Falls's junior 152-pounder
"It gets real intense," he said. "Sometimes when you practice with your team, some of the kids aren't as serious. Here, people want to take care of business."
Kelican and Steele are two of the area's most successful coaches. But last week gave Schluderberg and Shipp a chance to compare the two. They said Steele works his wrestlers more on drills, while Kelican emphasizes conditioning.
"It's interesting to see how other people practice," Schluderberg said, "and to see how other coaches do practice. They [Potomac Falls] have almost completely different practices from us."
The district's wrestlers were cheering for each other at the state meet.
That does not mean, however, that they check school pride at the door. Clark cited one big bonus from the trip to Park View and the week working with other wrestlers.
It's a view likely shared by all who experienced the week together.
"I like that when we go to other schools, they get to see how hard we practice," Clark said. "They get to see how hard we work at Potomac Falls."