In the first nine seasons that the Colonial Forge wrestling team hosted the Battlefield Duals, the Eagles won three Virginia AAA championships and won the AAA Northwest Region and AAA Commonwealth District titles every year.
But they never won their own event.
That changed Saturday when Colonial Forge capped a dominant two-day performance with a 58-12 dual win over Pennsylvania-power Connellsville to finish a perfect 7-0 and secure the tournament championship.
Forge won each of its duals by at least 18 points, and was never threatened by any of its top-level opponents who traveled to the Stafford school from four different states.
“We’ve won a lot of titles and been a lot of places, but we never won our own tournament in our gym,” Colonial Forge Coach Bill Swink said. “It was kind of nice to do.”
(Individual and team rankings can be found here.)
While Forge has always contended at the Battlefield Duals, Swink said it is by design that the tournament hasn’t been easy for his team to win.
Like most of the area’s top wrestling programs, Colonial Forge travels around the country to find elite competition to wrestle – the Eagles have already been to Pennsylvania, Delaware, Minnesota and all over Virginia for events this year.
But unlike most of the other top teams, Swink and his team also have an opportunity to bring elite wrestlers to them.
“One of the main reasons we started doing it was to bring in the tough competition,” Swink said. “We want to be challenged and pushed. It was nice to win, but the objective was to get some good competition in our own gym.”
Four Colonial Forge wrestlers went undefeated this weekend, with senior Connor Mareina going 7-0 at 120 pounds, senior David Reck finishing 7-0 between 182 and 195 pounds, senior Mark Garrity going 5-0 between 195 and 220 pounds and senior Quinton Winters going 7-0 between 220 and 285.
Among the Eagles’ dual wins was a 49-18 win over Virginia Beach titan Frank W. Cox, which finished second in the Virginia AAA tournament last season, one spot ahead of Forge.
The Eagles also have already beaten both defending state champion Robinson and last year’s fourth-place finisher Forest Park at a quad-meet earlier in the season, so it’s getting tough to keep from looking ahead to the possibility of a fourth state title in six seasons.
The state championship “is the singular goal we have every year,” Swink said. “We’ve tried to see most of the other tops teams in the state, but the state tournament is a lot different than a dual tournament or an early-season tournament. We’re not crowning ourselves or anything. We’ve got to stay healthy and our kids have got to perform.”
Fourth-ranked DeMatha (11-0) won all seven of its matches to capture the team title at the inaugural Battlin’ Barons Duals. The Stags closed out a dominant weekend at Bethesda-Chevy Chase by beating then-No. 10 Tuscarora, 55-22, on Saturday.
DeMatha’s road to the title became tougher when sophomore heavyweight Jordan Johnson suffered a neck injury. The team was already competing without a 220-pound entrant, leaving it with a pair of holes in its lineup Saturday.
But in the meet’s final match, the Stags overcame the two forfeits by winning seven of nine contested bouts for a comfortable victory over the second-place Titans (10-2). The host Barons (11-11) won five of eight matches to finish fourth behind Kempsville (Va.).
“We haven’t had a lot of dual meets in a while,” said DeMatha senior 195-pounder Dylan Devine, who won all six of his contested matches in the event by pin to improve to 22-2 on the season. “We wanted to show that even though we were scrapping at some of the weights, we can still be the top team out there.” . . .
Despite battling an illness, Tuscarora 170-pounder Austin Wenzlaff remained perfect this season, winning all eight of his matches over the weekend. While McNamara sophomore 138-pounder Alfred Bannister took outstanding wrestler honors, Wenzlaff scored one of the event’s most impressive wins when he knocked off Queen Anne’s senior Nick Cross — who is among the top 160-pounders in the state.
“I haven’t been feeling too well,” Wenzlaff said, “but I went out there and did what I needed to do.”
Wenzlaff, who became the school’s all-time wins leader earlier this season, has plenty of motivation to keep his unbeaten streak going. After finishing third place at the state meet the past two seasons, at 145 and 152, respectively, he said he’s ready to take the next step.
In addition to his regular team training, Wenzlaff has also sought better practice competition on his own to stay sharp. He’s worked out with former teammate Jake Cummings, who placed third in the state at 160 as a senior last season, and former Damascus 160-pound state champion Zeke Gammill in recent weeks.
“I plan on winning a state championship,” Wenzlaff said. “I really need my practice partners on the mat to step up, but I feel like I’m on the right track. I’m really shooting for it this year.”
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Individual, team wrestling rankings (Jan. 11)