Brooks Martino stood at the center of the mat Saturday night and raised two fingers on both hands above his head.
The Robinson senior had just scored three points in the third period to earn a 3-2 come-from-behind decision over Salem’s Zach Kechter in the145-pound final at the Virginia AAA wrestling tournament, and Martino celebrated by reminding the near-capacity crowd it was his second consecutive state title.
“It was a whole lot harder the second time,” Martino said. “People are gunning for you because they don’t want you to repeat.
Martino and 138-pound senior Santiago Valdez both won individual championships for Robinson at their home gym, and local wrestlers dominated the event as a whole, winning nine of the 14 individual championships after placing 16 competitors in the championship finals.
In the team competition, No. 1 Colonial Forge finished with 152.5 points to win its first state team championship since it won the last of three consecutive titles in 2009 — but the win was largely on the strength of its performance in the early rounds of the tournament.
(Watch a video replay of the state tournament here.)
Senior David Reck, the champion at 182 pounds, was the only Forge wrestler to advance to a championship final, but the Eagles had eight additional top-eight finishers and clinched the championship before the final round.
Defending champion Robinson finished second with 87 points. Matoaca (67.5), Annandale (65.5) and Forest Park (63) rounded out the top five.
“Not having [the team championship] for the last two years just makes you want it that much more,” Reck said. “It’s a team effort and our team was on board the entire year. Everybody worked their heart out every day in practice.”
Annandale 126-pound senior Dane Harlowe and Westfield 152-pound junior Beau Donahue were the other local wrestlers to win their second state championship, with Donahue needing an overtime takedown to beat Forest Park’s Kevin Johnson, 3-1, and Harlowe winning by a 15-0 technical fall after claiming the Northern Region championship by pin last week.
“I was just ready,” Harlowe said. “I had a really good semifinal match that went to overtime and I knew I just had to finish it.”
Wakefield 132-pound senior Henry Majano lost the tightest-contested match of the night in a 5-4 double overtime decision against Kellam’s Christian Olanowski.
Majano had been the aggressor for most of the match, but he gave up a controversial stall point in the second overtime that led to his second consecutive runner-up finish.
“It was a questionable call,” Majano said. “The referee asked me to keep working and that’s what I was doing. I was on the bottom and I was trying to work myself back up, but the referee called it. I don’t want to blame the officials, but I was working.”
Freedom-South Riding senior DaQuante Timbers capped the night with a pin of Robinson’s Jake Pinskton in the 285-pound final, one of four championship matches that featured two local finalists. Other local state champions were Osbourn Park’s Sean Badua (106 pounds), Stafford’s Logan Jackson (195) and Annandale’s Ali Ali Musa (220).
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