John Belyea, the Centreville High wrestling coach, likes where his team is at going into this weekend’s Concorde District championships. While the Wildcats’ dual team win-loss record is not formidable at 6-8, the veteran coach believes his squad has come a long way from the start of the season to now in terms of gaining experience and becoming more mat savvy.
“I think we’re certainly a better team now than we were at the beginning of the season,” said Belyea, who led the Langley High program to eight consecutive Liberty District crowns from 2003 through last winter before coming to Centreville. “We have some kids getting primed for the postseason. We’ll have a couple of No. 1 seeds for districts. The whole team has worked real hard. It’s been a good season and I think we’ll be ready Friday.”
The six-team district tournament, to be held at Chantilly High School, will get underway this Friday evening, Feb. 5 at 4 p.m. with preliminary round action throughout the night. It will resume again on Saturday morning at 11 a.m. The finals are expected to begin between 1 and 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon.
Centreville has eight seniors on its roster, but only about four of those 12th graders had a fair amount of varsity experience at the season’s start. The Wildcats have been led by their four senior captains – Martin Seneca (171 weight class), Dan Johnson (215), Jackson Islin (140) and Ricky Williams (135).
Seneca, at 171, carries a 28-4 record going into districts. One of his season highlights was capturing first place in his weight class at the Battle at the Bridge tournament in late December at Woodbridge High School.
“He’s had close matches in the district, but he’s beaten everyone,” said Belyea.
Johnson, who is 24-4, has been a steady tournament wrestler throughout the season at his 215 division. He placed third at the early season Northern Virginia Classic, and was also third at the Big Blue Invitational in Christiansburg on Jan. 23.
“He’s consistently in the No. 2 or three [finish] spots,” said the coach.
Islin enters districts with an impressive 23-4 record at 140. He has been wrestling at his best over the latter part of the season.
“He’s really coming on strong and peaking at the right time,” said Belyea.
Williams, at 135, has missed stretches of action due to injuries so he does not have as many matches as his teammates. But Belyea expects that Williams will be ready to go this weekend.
“I think our four senior [captains] will be ready for districts,” said Belyea, who led Langley to the region crown in 2007. “It’s nice to have kids who can lead and show the younger kids how to do things correctly. The four of them have, no doubt, been hard working kids. It’s been a good experience for me with those four kids – and with the entire team.”