Mount Vernon High junior wrestler Dusty Floyd recalls watching his peers accepting their place-finish medals and taking the awards stand at last year's Virginia State AAA wrestling championships. While Floyd, then a sophomore, had qualified for the 2010 state tournament, he had not done well enough once there to earn a top-eight medal.
But that moment served as high motivation for Floyd, who this winter season was determined to earn a medal at the state championships.
"I remember last year seeing the kids at the podium at states," said Floyd. "I knew I could get there."
Last weekend, he accomplished that mission by finishing a solid fifth place in the 171-division weight class. The two-day state championship tournament took place last Friday and Saturday (Feb. 18-19) at Robinson Secondary.
Floyd, who in recent weeks captured postseason titles at both the National District and Northern Region championships, put together a strong showing at the state meet. He also displayed a flair for the dramatic with three of his matches coming in the final seconds.
Following a Friday afternoon first round win over Adam Stein of Deep Run High (Glen Allen), Floyd fell into the loser's bracket as a result of a 5-2 loss to Woodbridge High's Nolan King on Friday night.
But a determined Floyd won his next two matches — a late third period pin win over Omar Howard of Midlothian High on Saturday morning, followed by an early afternoon, 8-6 triumph over Rickey Foreman of Oscar Smith High (Chesapeake). Both of those loser's bracket wins were clinched in the final five seconds, the winning points versus Foreman coming on a standing throw down.
"That was crazy," said Floyd, of the late match drama win over Foreman.
He then lost, 8-1, to Corbin Ramos of Matoaca (Chesterfield) in a mid-afternoon match that Floyd called the low point of his tournament. That setback prevented him from having a chance to wrestle in the consolation finals for third place. Instead, Floyd would wrestle in the fifth place match against senior Stephen Henderson of Hickory High (Chesapeake).
There, Floyd concluded his state tournament showing with a 7-4 win and a fifth-place overall standing. But the win over Henderson was far from easy. Floyd, ahead 3-2 in the third period, was taken down to fall behind 4-3. But another late winning move — a reversal in the final five seconds — resulted in the cardiac style win.
"Going into states, a top six finish was my goal. I think I wrestled very well," said Floyd, who went 4-2 at states. "King [of Woodbridge] got a late takedown on me in the quarterfinals. But I wrestled back [in the loser's bracket] real tough."
Floyd, who a year ago finished fourth at regionals to qualify for states, said his fifth-place showing at states last weekend means more to him than his prior earlier first place postseason heroics at the district and region championships.
"Finishing fifth was the highlight of the season for me," he said.