Ryan Forrest’s quest for a Virginia State AAA wrestling title fell short last weekend at the mega state postseason event held at Robinson Secondary. But the junior, who wrestles at the 145-pound weight class, displayed the heart of a champion in bouncing back from a third round loss – his first setback of the entire season – and going on to earn a third place standing in the state.
“It was my first loss of the season, and that was tough,” said Forrest, of a 7-1 setback in the semifinals to Kevin Johnson of Forest Park High (Woodbridge). I really wanted a shot at the state title.”
Forrest, the Liberty District and Northern Region champion who entered the state tournament with a perfect 37-0 record, won his first two matches at states last Friday, Feb. 18 – a third round pin win over Mosiah Mitchell of Battlefield (Haymarket), followed by a 4-1 decision win over Brandon Smith of Great Bridge (Chesapeake). That put Forrest into Saturday afternoon’s semifinals – one victory away from the opportunity to wrestle for the state crown. But Forrest, 39-0 going into the semis match against Forest Park’s Johnson, experienced his first loss of the season, 7-1.
Naturally, the loss shook Forrest up somewhat with his opportunity at winning a state crown dashed. But prior to his next match – a mid-afternoon, loser’s bracket bout against Zakeel Muhammad of Henrico High (Richmond) – Forrest re-adjusted his thinking.
“Going into the loser’s bracket, I said to myself, `Third place would be pretty good,’” said Forrest, who would need two loser’s bracket wins to garner third place overall.
He defeated Muhammad, 16-0, to move into the consolation finals for third place. Forrest recalled five years earlier when he had finished fourth place in a state youth wrestling tournament.
“I remember [at the time] thinking that fourth place didn’t sound nearly as good as third,” said Forrest, with a smile.
So, going into his consolation semifinals match on Saturday, Forrest didn’t want anything to do with finishing the season in fourth place. He wanted the third place tournament medal. Going up against Alex Turley of Thomas Dale High (Chester), Forrest toughened his way to a 4-2 decision to get third place.
“There was no way I was going to lose that match,” said Forrest. “Going into it I’d had a couple pretty tiring matches [earlier in the day]. But I was quick on my feet [against Turley].”
Forrest, in that match for third place, earned a two-point first period takedown to go up 2-0. He followed that up with reversal points in the second period to take a 4-0 advantage he never lost.
Later that evening, after accepting his third place medal, Forrest reflected on the semifinals loss to Johnson.
“I feel if I’d made some tactically better decisions I could have come out ahead,” he said. “That one loss at states will stick with me.”
But Forrest will likely have another chance to make a run at a state title next year. For this season, he had to settle for a 41-1 overall record and a third place finish at states - an awesome season to say the least.
<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 were: Tyler DeLeon (eighth at heavyweight) of Westfield; Joseph Vanderplas (third place at 215) of Fairfax; Ali Musa (fourth at 215) of Annandale; Scott Blackstone (eighth at 189) of South County; Dusty Floyd (fifth at 171) of Mount Vernon; Tim Fitzpatrick (eighth at 171) of Robinson; Wes Jones (third at 160) of Robinson; Christian Merino (seventh at 160) of South County; Kombeh Koroma (fifth place at 152) of Lee; Zaq Depasquale (eighth at 145) of Robinson; Rory Renzi (fifth at 135) of Lake Braddock; Omar Maknassi (seventh at 135) of T.C.Williams; Santiago Valdez (third at 130) of Robinson; Nathan Cobu (sixth at 130) of Hayfield; 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; Jon Le (seventh at 112) of Annandale; and Hunter Manley (eighth at 103) of South County.