At last year’s Northern Region wrestling championships, a loser’s bracket loss to Mount Vernon High’s Trey McClure prevented Lee High’s Konbeh Koroma from being among the top four place finishers at the 152-weight class and earning an automatic seeding at the following week’s Virginia State AAA tournament.
Koroma had missed out on states and that heartache stayed with him throughout the following year on into this current high school wrestling season.
Last Saturday night at Fairfax High School, Koroma used last year’s disappointment to spur him on to greater things. The result was not simply finishing among the top four of his weight class (152) to qualify for states, but coming away with the 152 region crown. And it was quite fitting that, in the championship finals, Koroma bested Mount Vernon’s McClure, 5-2, to claim his first region title.
“I said I was going to do this,” said an emotional Koroma afterwards, of his determination to win his weight class. “The [Mount Vernon] kid beat me last year and kept me from states. He beat me 9-1. I wasn’t mentally strong last year.”
But Koroma had more than enough mental, emotional and physical fortitude to go the next step to win this year’s region championship. He opened with an 11-3 major decision win over Robinson’s Daniel Mika in a first round match, then followed that up with an 8-4 decision victory over Stone Bridge’s Jonathan Faul in the quarterfinals. That put Koroma into the semifinals where he defeated one of the region’s best wrestlers, Westfield High’s Harry Van Trees, by a 10-8 score.
In the finals, Koroma was going up against McClure (46-2 record), a senior and two-time National District champion and the opponent who had dashed his hopes a year ago. This time, Koroma (36-1) got the best of the Major standout, earning the hard-fought decision.
“My best match was winning against Van Trees [in the semifinals],” said Koroma, this year’s Patriot District champion. “My head gear kept coming off [in that bout]. Then, in the finals [against McClure], I wasn’t going to lose. I said, `No one is taking this from me.’”
Koroma, a senior, credited Lee head coach Clarence Martin, as well as the Lancer assistant coaches and “all the Gunston [wrestling] people” for helping him during his quest to become a high school region champion.
“I have great coaches,” he said.
This Friday and Saturday, Feb. 18-19, Koroma will compete at the state championships, set to take place at Robinson Secondary.
<b>OTHER LOCAL WRESTLERS</b> who finished in the top four in their respective weight classes at last week’s regionals to qualify for states included: Hayfield’s Chris Mulligan (third place at heavyweight), Edison’s David Lazo (fourth at heavyweight), Hayfield’s David Cox (fourth at 215 weight class), Lake Braddock’s Cory Smith (second at 171), Lee’s Kevin Parada (fourth at 171), South County’s Christian Merino (second at 160), South County’s Brett Stein (third at 140), Lake Braddock’s Jake Sage (fourth at 140), Lake Braddock’s Rory Renzi (third at 135), Hayfield’s Nathan Coburn (third at 130), Edison’s Brock Jacobson (second at 119), Lee’s Alex Moore (fourth at 119), and South County’s Hunter Manley (second at 103).
The region team champion was Robinson, which captured its first region crown since 1991. The Rams finished with 260.50 points, finishing ahead of second place and defending region champion Westfield (208). South County (118) finished third place, while Annandale (92) and Hayfield (78) finished fourth and fifth places, respectively, at the 30-team event. Finishing sixth through 10th place were Lee High (69), Mount Vernon (65), Edison (62), Langley (58) and Lake Braddock (54.50).
Robinson’s Jack Bass, the 125-weight class champion, was named the region tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. Centreville High, which finished 18th place in the team standings, accepted the Sportsmanship Award trophy during brief post meet ceremonies on Saturday night.