While the Robinson Rams’ first place showing was the top storyline at last weekend’s Virginia State AAA wrestling championships event, held last Friday and Saturday (Feb. 18-19) at Robinson Secondary, there were numerous other local wrestlers who put together strong showings at the postseason extravaganza.
Joseph Vanderplas of Fairfax had an outstanding state tournament with a third place finish at the 215-division weight class. A senior, Vanderplas, earlier this postseason, captured titles at both the Liberty District and Northern Region championships. At states, he put together a strong run to garner the third place position on the medal stand.
Vanderplas, in his first match on Friday afternoon, defeated Potomac High’s Mike Sital with a second period pin. Later, that evening, the Fairfax standout came up victorious again when he defeated Austin Dickey of Kempsville (Virginia Beach), 5-1.
The following afternoon, in his third match at states, Vanderplas fell into the loser’s bracket with an 8-1 semifinals setback to eventual champion Justin Tribble of North Stafford. Although any title hopes he had were dashed with the loss to Tribble, Vanderplas came back strong by winning consecutive matches in the loser’s bracket to take third place – an 8-2 win over Marcus Beckwith of Meadowbrook (Richmond), followed by a 7-3 consolation finals (third place) win over fellow Northern Region wrestler Ali Musa of Annandale.
<b>LEE HIGH’S</b> Kombeh Koroma, this year’s Northern Region champion at 152-division, worked his way to a fifth place finish at states. The Lancer senior won his first two matches on Friday – a 10-9 decision over Hampton High’s Tony Leonardi, and a 14-8 victory over Dalton St. Clair of L.C. Bird (Chesterfield). The latter win advanced Koroma into a semifinals match on Saturday early afternoon versus Justin Spyres of Green Run (Virginia Beach). Koroma lost a 5-1 decision to Spyres to slip into the loser’s bracket.
“I was trying to push the pace in the semifinals match and I think that got me because I got into some trouble,” said Koroma, of the loss to eventual second place finisher Spyres.
In the loser’s bracket, Koroma lost to Tevin Cook of Battlefield (Haymarket), 9-2, preventing Koroma from advancing to the consolation finals for third place. Instead, Koroma competed in the match for fifth place where he was a 3-2 winner over Zach Morris of Albemarle (Charlottesville).
“It was a good tournament but not where I wanted to be,” said Koroma, of finishing fifth. “It hurts because [as a senior] this was my last chance to get it.”
Also finishing fifth at states was Lake Braddock’s Rory Renzi, who competed in the 135-weight class. Renzi, the third seed from the Northern Region, won his first match over Jerry Ronnay of Midlothian, 7-2, before falling into the loser’s bracket with a 12-8 loss to CJ Jablonski of Cox High (Virginia Beach). Renzi then defeated both Emmitt Kelly of Freedom High, 5-1, and Omar Maknassi of T.C. Williams, 5-3, in loser’s bracket matches. A 9-0 loss to Gabe LaVey of Hanover (Mechanicsville) prevented Renzi from going on to the consolation finals. Instead, in the match for fifth place, the Bruin sophomore closed his state tourney showing out with a pin victory over Johnny McClanahan of Great Bridge (Chesapeake).
Hayfield’s Nathan Coburn finished sixth place at 130 weight class. After a first round loss, Coburn won three straight matches in the loser’s bracket before closing out with two setbacks. His loser bracket wins came over Greg Nelson of Woodbridge, Ross Benzel of Kellam, and Dillon Knight of Atlee (Mechanicsville).
<b>SOUTH COUNTY</b> received place finishes from Christian Merino (seventh place at 160 division); Scott Blackstone (eighth at 189); and Hunter Manley (eighth at 103).
Merino, a senior, defeated Brandon Terry of Patrick Henry High (Roanoke), 6-3, before falling into the loser’s bracket where he earned wins over Mark Darr of C.D. Hylton (Woodbridge) and Ryan Buchanan of Denbigh (Newport News), the latter a 7-2 win for seventh place.
Blackstone (189), a senior, won matches at states over Trey Purnell of Woodbridge, 5-2, and Ben Yeaman of Hermitage (Richmond), 4-0, on way to finishing eight.
And Manley, a freshman at 103-division, recorded state wins over Matt Molloy of Midlothian, 9-0, and Eric Merriam of Great Bridge, 3-0, on way to finishing eighth. Overall, he was pleased to earn a medal at states.
“It was a good experience,” said Manley (46-9), of competing at states for the first time. “I think I could have done a little better. I think it will be a good preparer for next year. There are lots of kids here who are not on the medal stand.”
<b>ROBINSON SECONDARY</b> captured the team championship on Saturday, marking the first time since 1985 – when Robinson also won it - that a team from the Northern Region has won a state title. The Rams also won the state crown back in 1981. Like this year, Robinson Secondary was the host site for the ’81 state tournament. Robinson’s individual state champions last weekend were Brooks Martino (135-division) and Jake Smith (119). Rams who reached the finals before losing were Dallas Smith (112), Jack Bass (125), and Jake Pinkston (heavyweight).
Robinson won the team title with 155.5 points, besting runner-up Cox High (125) of Virginia Beach and third place Colonial Forge (98.5) of Stafford. Forest Park (76) of Woodbridge took fourth place and Westfield High (69) from the Northern Region was fifth. Annandale High, also from the Northern Region, finished 11th place at the 20-team meet.
Other individual state champions to come out of the Northern Region were Beau Donahue (140-division) of Westfield and Dane Harlowe (125) of Annandale. Henry Majano (130) of Wakefield High finished second.
Other top eight place finishers from the Northern Region included: Tyler DeLeon (eighth at heavyweight) of Westfield; Ali Musa (fourth at 215) of Annandale; Dusty Floyd (fifth at 171) of Mount Vernon; Tim Fitzpatrick (eighth at 171) of Robinson; Wes Jones (third at 160) of Robinson; Zaq Depasquale (eighth at 145) of Robinson; Omar Maknassi (seventh at 135) of T.C.Williams; Santiago Valdez (third at 130) of Robinson; Steven Aiello (eighth at 130) of Westfield; Derek Arnold (third at 125) of Westfield; Robert Dooley (fifth at 119) of Madison; Brett Campbell (third at 112) of Westfield; and Jon Le (seventh at 112) of Annandale.