Colonial Forge set out to accomplish what no team had pulled off in a decade. Not only did the top-ranked Eagles win their first Virginia AAA wrestling title, they halted nine-time defending champion Great Bridge's staggering streak. And they made it look almost easy.
The Eagles finished with 169.5 points last night at Robinson. They were sparked by junior 125-pounder Joe Pantaleo and senior Matt Reck (215), each of whom won titles. The Eagles finished 17.5 points ahead of second-place Great Bridge.
"Before the finals started, people were coming up to me congratulating me," said eighth-year Colonial Forge coach Bill Swink. "I said: 'It's not over. It's still Great Bridge.' Until I knew mathematically . . . "
While the Eagles had all but wrapped up the title before the finals, the lack of suspense did little to quell the traditionally partisan crowd that by turns lustfully booed or cheered Great Bridge.
Pantaleo earned an 8-2 decision over Great Bridge 125-pounder Marty Carlson in a match that sealed the victory for the Eagles.
Beating a Great Bridge wrestler "was the sweetest part of all," Pantaleo said. "Ever since freshman year, people told us -- I talked to some of the people I consider the greats of our school -- and they always said we're going to get to second in the state, we're not going to beat Great Bridge.
"I never understood. Why can't we beat Great Bridge?"
Hayfield 152-pounder Steven Ours took a similar approach with his 9-2 upset of last year's champion, Jared King of Great Bridge, in the final. Robinson senior Matt Jones defended his 171-pound title, winning in front of his home crowd for the second straight year by pinning Colonial Forge's Max Huntley in 57 seconds.
"As soon as I stepped out on the mat everything just erased out of my mind," Jones said. "To be honest, I knew what I had to do and there was no doubt I was winning that match."
Jones's teammate, freshman Roman Perryman, defeated Randy Chapman of Princess Anne, 8-6, in the 103-pound final; Westfield 145-pounder Paul Grinups defeated North Stafford's Tom Lacey, 9-5; and Massaponax heavyweight Josh Wine scored a 3-2 overtime victory over Fauquier's Nick Cook.
Colonial Forge's Michael Garofalo (119) and Philip Chichester (140), Langley's Colin Zoski (130), Gar-Field's Justin Hickey (135) and Curtis Moore (189) and Brooke Point's Patrick Bienlien (215) each placed second.
Best of the Rest:Third-place finishers from the Washington area were Colonial Forge's Shane Gentry (112), Fauquier's Kevin Chapman (119), Westfield's Joel Hutchens (135), Brooke Point's Sam Hunt (160), McLean's Troy Hayre (171), and Lake Braddock's Danny Bryant (heavyweight).
Executing a Reversal: Massaponax heavyweight Josh Wine, who lost in the final on an overtime ride-out last year, won last night by escaping from the bottom with three seconds left in overtime.