South Lakes High wrestling sensation Ryan Forrest remained unbeaten for the season and captured the 145-weight class title at last weekend’s Northern Region championships. The two-day postseason event took place Friday and Saturday (Feb. 11-12) at Fairfax High School.
Forrest, a junior who two weeks ago captured his third consecutive Liberty District title, won all four of his matches at regionals to gain the 145 crown. In the finals, he dominated his match versus Robinson’s Zak Depasquale with a 10-1 major decision triumph.
“It was great,” said Forrest, of the excitement of winning the title match. “I knew most of the [Fairfax High] gymnasium would be on his side because of how good Robinson is.”
Depasquale, indeed, had a loud and supportive following of fans cheering him on. The Robinson faithful enjoyed a night in which seven Rams’ wrestlers won championships at their respective weight classes. On top of that, Robinson easily won the team title – its first since 1991.
But in the 145 finals, Forrest, who had some good fan support of his own, quieted the Robinson followers with his fantastic title match win in which, midway through the first period, he used a takedown and turned his opponent onto his back to build a 5-0 lead. The score was 8-0 after that first period and Forrest controlled the remainder of the match.
Forrest, over the years, has wrestled with and against Depasquale and had a good idea of what it would take to win the match.
“I’ve known that kid most of my life,” said Forrest, with a smile.
As thrilled as Forrest was with the individual title, he has been most pleased this season with the progress the South Lakes program, as a whole, has continued to make under head coach Bruce Hall. The Seahawks have continually gotten better and better under Hall in recent years. South Lakes put together an exceptional season this winter in which the Seahawks went 19-6 over the dual meet season.
“This is definitely the best [South Lakes wrestling] has been in a long time,” said Forrest, who was a third place finisher at last year’s regionals. “I’ve really enjoyed my team and I love our coaches. I try to take on more leadership and try to help out some of the other kids.”
Forrest, along with growing in the sport under the guidance of the South Lakes coaching staff, has also worked under the tutelage of longtime wrestling aficionado Wade Schalles at Landon School in Bethesda.
Schalles, a nationally renowned wrestling coach and a former two-time NCAA champion, is director of EagleHawk Academy.
It has all come together this season for Forrest, who goes into next weekend’s Virginia State AAA championships at Robinson Secondary with a perfect 37-0 record. Forrest said he has not felt the pressure of being unbeaten for the most part this season, although he is more conscious of his perfect record now that the postseason is here.
But he appeared as focused as ever at regionals. In his first round match, Forrest defeated Hayfield’s Mark Allan on a first period pin, then pinned Chantilly’s Sam Cronin early in the second period of his second round match. In the semifinals, Forrest handled Westfield’s Nick Hehman, 6-0, to earn his spot in the finals against Depasquale (33-10), the 145-Concorde District champion.
South Lakes finished 19th place overall in the region team standings with 32 points. The 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), the Saxons 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.
Neither South Lakes nor Herndon had any top six place finishers at regionals, other than Forrest. The top four wrestlers in each weight class automatically advanced to this weekend’s state AAA championships. The top six finishers earned medals.
<b>OAKTON HIGH</b>, meanwhile, saw Austin Murga earn a third place finish at 189-division, while Cougars’ wrestlers Eddie Gerow (112) and Matt Norterangelo (152) finished fourth and fifth place, respectively.
Murga earned a third place finish at 189. He defeated Stuart’s Melvin Mazariegos with a second period pin, then lost an 8-6 decision to Annandale’s John McCollom. But Murga then went on a tear, winning four straight matches in the loser’s bracket to earn third place.
The wins came over Yorktown’s Hakeem Sansui, 8-3; Langley’s Elie Kawmy (11-3 major decision); Centreville’s David Chenevey, 9-8; and, in the consolation finals, a default win over Jefferson’s Patrick O’Connor.
Oakton’s Gerow, at 112 weight class, earned fourth place. He started out with a third period pin win over Jefferson’s Jeremy Weller, then defeated Washington-Lee’s Miga Khaadan, 14-2. Gerow then lost his semifinals match by pin to Robinson’s Dallas Smith, the eventual champion. But Gerow, in the loser’s bracket, defeated Marshall’s James Cusack, 6-3. That put him into the consolation finals where Gerow lost to Jon Lee of Annandale, 9-3.
Norterangelo, Oakton’s 152-division wrestler, was a first round default winner over Woodson’s Randall Mailand before falling to Langley’s Matt Wilson on a late first round pin. But Norterangelo came back to win consecutive loser’s bracket matches over Robinson’s Daniel Mika, 2-1, and Annandale’s Allan Cabrera, 8-4. A major decision 13-5 loss to Westfield’s Harry Van Trees put Norterangelo in the match for fifth place where he was a default winner over Stone Bridge’s Jonathan Faul.
The Virginia State AAA championships will take place this Friday and Saturday (Feb. 18-19) at Robinson Secondary.