It was fitting that Westfield High's success at the Northern Region Wrestling Championships on Feb. 16-17 at Fairfax High School mirrored what has been a fantastic overall season for the Bulldogs.
Westfield, which was 30-2 in dual meets over the course of the regular season while also capturing first place at five in-season tournaments, proved to be just as dominant at regionals. There, coach Chuck Hoskins' squad captured its third team title in school history while also qualifying a team-record 14 wrestlers for the state AAA championships, which took place Feb. 19-20 at Robinson High.
Westfield, at regionals, won the title with 345.50 points, finishing ahead of second place and Concorde District rival Robinson (286). Finishing third was another Concorde opponent - Centreville High (126), followed by fourth place Woodson (123) and fifth place Langley (121.50). Other strong team showings at the 31-school meet came from Marshall (8th place), local Chantilly (10th), McLean (14th) and South Lakes (tied for 18th).
Robinson was one of just two opponents that defeated Westfield in dual meets this season - a 28-24 Rams' victory over the Bulldogs on Jan. 8. So for Westfield to best the runner-up Robinson squad in the team standings at regionals was particularly gratifying.
"It's a great rival between us and Robinson," said Hoskins. "They beat us in the dual meet and had a leg up on us.
"The kids just wrestled incredible [at regionals]," said the coach. "I never saw anything like it - from the early rounds all the way through."
Top four individual finishers in each weight class at regionals earned seedings at the state tournament. Twice in the past, Westfield had qualified 10 wrestlers for states, so last week's 14 qualifiers was exceptional for a program that has known vast success.
<b>FOUR WESTFIELD WRESTLERS</b> captured region titles and six more finished second. Bulldog champs were: Kyle Arnold (140 weight class), Kevin Koch (152), Austin Fallon (189), and Tyler Deleon (heavyweight).
At the 140 finals, Westfield's Arnold bested Robinson's Charlie Vannoy, 3-2. Arnold, a senior, went on to finish third at states. "Kyle became a starter last year," said Hoskins. "He worked hard during the offseason and, as a senior, put it all together. He peaked at the right time and wrestled real well."
At 152, Koch defeated Robinson's Ben Stallings in overtime, 2-1. It was the first region crown for Koch, a two-time district champion during his career.
Fallon, the Westfield 189 standout, defeated Marshall's Mark Bergenholtz, 7-2, in the championship match to gain his second career region title. He then went on to capture the state title as well later in the week - his second career state crown.
Hoskins said repeating as region and state champion was no easy task for Fallon, who will be wrestling collegiately at Bucknell University (Lewisburg, Pa.) next school year.
"He did a phenomenal job [this season] and worked hard," said Hoskins. "I've seen in the past when kids came back as champions their work ethic was not as good and they weren't as motivated. Austin worked harder this year. He was focused and wanted [to repeat as champion]."
At heavyweight, Deleon of Westfield was a 5-1 finals victor over West Potomac's Sami Ahmady.
Deleon wrestled mostly at the 215 weight class during the season but was moved up to heavyweight for the postseason and excelled.
"He got hot at the right time and his confidence was high," said Hoskins, of Deleon. "He wrestled smart and did a great job. He was definitely the surprise of the region going from 215 to heavyweight."
Westfield's Brett Campbell finished second at 103 weight class, falling to Robinson's Dallas Smith, 1-0, in the finals. Other Bulldogs who finished second were: Stephen Aiello, who reached the 112 finals before losing to Annandale's Dane Harlowe by major decision; Dennon Carranza-Kee, who fell at the 125 finals to Madison's Albert Schultz, 4-0; John Orchard-Hays, who was defeated by Robinson's Jacob Crawford in the championship; Beau Donahue, who lost to Robinson's Roman Perryman, 8-4, in the 135 finals; and Nick Grinups ,who lost a tough 4-3 decision to Lake Braddock's Ross Renzi in the 160 finals.
Westfield's Harry Van Trees finished third at the 145 weight class, defeating Lee's Omar Ezzeddine, 4-2, in the consolation finals. Other place finishers for Westfield were Rapheal Bamezon (4th at 215), Dylan Doty (4th at 171) and Karl Tanner (4th at 119).
Westfield, at states, finished an outstanding third in the team standings and had six place finishers.
<b>FOR CENTREVILLE HIGH</b>, Martin Seneca made it to the 171 region finals where he lost to Annandale's Stacey Anderson, 9-4. Seneca reached the championship with victories over Cam Bowen of Stone Bridge, Austin Murga of Oakton, Mac Tunick of Woodson and Bernabe Mejia of Chantilly. (Mejia ultimately finished fifth).
Centreville had two third place finishers: Jackson Islin, who pinned Mount Vernon's Dusty Floyd in the 140 consolation finals; and Daniel Johnson, a 3-1 overtime winner over Westfield's Bamezon in the 215 consolation finals. Also for the Wildcats, Ricky Williams finished fourth at 135 weight class.
<b>CHANTILLY'S</b> Jack Carlson went all the way to the 145 finals before losing a close 5-4 decision to Robinson's Mickey Bennett. Carlson reached the finals with wins over Said Matan of Falls Church, Brennan Reeder of Hayfield, Will Pyrak of Jefferson, and Omar Ezzeddine of Lee in the semifinals.