Edison Coach Scott Racek opened the folded note, glanced at his captain and nodded. Robert Garnett nodded back.
Both Garnett and Racek knew the 138-pound’s mission for his senior season: he wanted to earn his fourth Conference 13 district championship, his second 5A North region title and his first Virginia state championship. But writing everything down, Garnett said, made the picture clearer and steered his focus.
Two months after handing Racek, who is also his International Baccalaureate world history teacher, the note before class, Garnett checked the second objective off his list, earning a 5A North region championship Saturday for the first time since his freshman campaign.
“It was definitely a proud moment,” Garnett said. “In the semifinals I faced a kid who I lost to last year in the semifinals.”
Indeed, Broad Run’s Nicholas Taylor handed Garnett a 3-2 defeat in last year’s region semifinals when both wrestled at 132 pounds. So before Garnett took the mat Saturday, Racek pulled him aside and offered a familiar refrain.
If Garnett wanted to achieve his goals, Racek said, he needed to be more aggressive on offense.
“He said, ‘If you don’t, then you’re not going to win anyway. . . . If you don’t score, you’re not going to win, so what do you got to lose?’”
The back-and-forth affair stretched to a fourth overtime, with Garnett earning the right to start the period on bottom due to winning the pre-match coin toss. All he had to do was escape from Taylor’s crab ride within 30 seconds.
Typically wrestlers try to wriggle out from the hold and stand up, Racek said. Instead, with about two seconds left, Garnett reversed the maneuver and flipped Taylor on his back for the reversal and victory.
“He’s a tough kid. But I was excited to get my chance at him again. I was excited to show that I could do it,” Garnett said of Taylor.
Garnett’s championship win over Patrick Henry-Roanoke’s Tombola Sindihebura was less dramatic, ending in a 4-2 decision.
After winning a region championship as a freshman at 106 pounds, Garnett took second as a sophomore at 113 pounds and third as a junior at 132 pounds. He was not moving in the direction he wanted.
So he ratcheted up the intensity this season, not ignorantly going for every shot but wrestling decidedly less defensive. The mind-set helped him earn a district title last weekend and the region championship Saturday night. And with two goals checked off his list, Garnett is hopes he can end his career with his hand raised high next weekend in Chesapeake.
“Getting on my offense, getting shots in, coach said that’s when I’m at my best,” he said. “And its true.”
Potomac won the 5A North team title with 218.5 points, thanks in part to senior Devin’s Sweeney’s championship at 106 pounds and three second-place finishers and four third-place finishers. Stuart’s Mohammad Awadallah took first at 120 pounds.
Broad Run’s John Birchmeier won tat 220 pounds with a fall over Atlee’s Robbie Adelstein, as the Spartans finished in fifth with 130 team points.
Local teams also participated in the 6A South region, where Woodbridge scored 152.5 points to take third place. In the 4A West, Woodgrove tied with Liberty Christian for fourth with 105.5 team points.