STUARTS DRAFT – Turner Ashby High School wrestler Brandon Garcia is no stranger to close matches.
“Last year, I was in overtime a lot,” Garcia said. “Like last year at regionals to get to states, I won in double overtime.”
The sophomore 120-pounder was in tight situations again at the Conference 29 tournament at Stuarts Draft High School on Saturday.
Garcia, one of TA’s meet-best four individual champions, survived his fourth match this season against Broadway sophomore Sebastian Phillips in a 4-3 decision to reach the championship round, where he held on to defeat top-seed Logan Zimmerman of Monticello 1-0.
“It was a little too close though. It was a little worrisome,” said Garcia, whose nerve-wracking wins drew at least one dramatic sigh of relief from TA coach Marshall Smiley.
The title-clinching point came on a violation with about 45 seconds left in the third and final period: an illegal move known as the “figure four” around the body.
Then, in the final seconds, Garcia narrowly avoided a near fall, flip-flopping from his front to his back then quickly to his front – not long enough to yield two points. The win was even more satisfying after the TA grappler twice was ruled just out of bounds on takedown attempts, once in each of the first two periods.
“It was pretty frustrating, but I mean, this is the first year I’ve actually like shot,” Garcia said. “Last year, I’d wait for them to shoot.”
The new, more-aggressive wrestling style is paying off for Garcia – and TA’s youth is also paying dividends.
Three of the Knights’ four champions were sophomores, including Dalton Farley winning the 106-pound weight class over Fort Defiance’s Colton McCray 8-5 and Caleb Liskey pinning Waynesboro’s Colin Cook at 152.
TA senior Jacob Ritchie improved to 31-3, cruising to a championship title at 132. He beat Broadway sophomore Kyle Rocheford, who upset Parker Williams 9-4 in the semifinals after the Waynesboro senior appeared to suffer a mid-match injury.
Waynesboro won the conference title with 210 points, though the runner-up Knights (193.5) cut the Little Giants’ 35.5-point lead through the semifinals down to 21.5 going into the championship round, only to lose by 16.5.
Third-place Broadway (185) and TA each qualified 10 wrestlers for the 3A West Region Championships, which will be held at Staunton River High School on Friday and Saturday.
Further north in Winchester, Harrisonburg (151) placed fourth out of six teams in the Conference 23 tournament, which host John Handley won 255-222 over Louisa County. HHS qualified nine wrestlers for the 4A North regional meet, including two champions: sophomore Anthony Cruz (26-16) at 126 pounds and senior Artem Makayed (33-3) at 182.
The Gobblers tied Waynesboro with three champions, and if Conference 29 named an MVP, BHS coach Jimmy Wimer believes Drew Diaz would have at least been in the conversation. The senior 136-pounder pinned both of his opponents by an average of 1 minute and 19 seconds.
Like Diaz, BHS junior Dustin Ward (170) was also a No. 1 seed and topped the podium, edging TA’s Lukas Shifflett 2-1 on a last-second reversal. It took an upset of a No. 1 seed for Tyler Funkhouser to secure a critical No. 1 seed in the highly competitive 220-pound weight class in the 3A West region – a Group of Death that includes state juggernaut programs such as Christiansburg and Brookville.
“I know Tyler can take down anybody in the state and it was just time for him to step up and prove it tonight,” Wimer said, noting Funkhouser’s progression of confidence over the last three or four weeks.
Saturday felt different for Funkhouser (33-4), too, leading to his first win in three meetings this season against senior favorite Oliver McKenzie (29-4).
“I knew I would see him again, and I don’t know what it was about this time, but I wasn’t as nervous,” said Funkhouser, who anticipates tough regional opponents from Cave Spring, Northside and, of course, Waynesboro. “Usually I get the little jitters and stuff before I wrestle, but this time I wasn’t nervous at all. It’s the end of my senior year and I knew I couldn’t be nervous no more. I knew I just had to go out there and win.”
Spotswood’s sole regional qualifier, senior Lenee Figliola, defeated TA’s Walker Shull 2-0 on a late takedown in the 113 semifinals, taking advantage of a momentary lapse to slide by her opponent.
“She wrestled pretty tough there,” SHS coach Chris Grefe said. “Second period, she kind of was able to hold him down, rode out the whole period, and then just got some points there in the third.”
Seeking her first state berth, Figliola (22-16) pushed Western Albemarle senior Andrew Dickerson (27-4) to three periods in a rematch from last week, showing improvement according to Grefe. But she failed to score before being pinned with 32 seconds remaining.
NOTES: TA had won its first postseason meet in each of the last 15 seasons. That streak came to an end, with conference tournaments taking the place of district tournaments as the first stage of the playoffs in the Virginia High School League’s new six-classification system…The Knights left three weight classes vacant, meaning 10 of TA’s 11 conference participants qualified for regionals. They did not compete at 126, 220 or 285…Broadway did not compete at 113…Spotswood did not compete in nine of the 14 weight classes: 106, 120, 126, 132, 138, 152, 182, 220 or 285.
Conference 29 Tournament
At Stuarts Draft High School
Team scores: 1. Waynesboro 210, 2. Turner Ashby 193.5, 3. Broadway 185, 4. Western Albemarle 144, 5. Fort Defiance 114, 6. Monticello 84.5, 7. Stuarts Draft 82, 8. Spotswood 25.
106: Dalton Farley (TA) 29-7, So. over Colton McCray (Fort) 28-7, Sr. (Dec 8-5).
113: Andrew Dickerson (WA) 27-4, Sr. over Lenee Figliola (Spots) 22-16, Sr. (Fall 5:28).
120: Brandon Garcia (TA) 26-6, So. over Logan Zimmerman (Mont) 31-7, So. (Dec 1-0).
126: Drew Diaz (B) 34-2, Sr. over Camden Jarvis (Wayn) 9-6, Jr. (Fall 1:37).
132: Jacob Ritchie (TA) 31-3, Sr. over Kyle Rocheford (B) 25-14, So. (M-Dec 12-4).
138: Isaac Diehl (Fort) 31-1, Sr. over Ryan Brown (Mont) 46-2, Sr. (Fall 4:40).
145: David Oliver (Wayn) 29-3, Sr. over Tristan Bailey (B) 29-7, Sr. (M-Dec 10-0).
152: Caleb Liskey (TA) 21-9, So. over Colin Cook (Wayn) 10-10, Fr. (Fall 1:41).
160: Devin Kestner (Wayn) 22-2, Sr. over Dylan Kerns (TA) 11-10, So. (M-Dec 10-2).
170: Dustin Ward (B) 27-10, Jr. over Lukas Shifflett (TA) 16-11, Jr. (Dec 2-1).
182: Chris Miller (WA) 42-1, Sr. over Tony Talbert (Mont) 22-15, So. (Fall 1:47).
195: Sam Davis (Draft) 45-0, Sr. over Kahwan Veney (Wayn) 31-3, Sr. (Dec 2-1).
220: Tyler Funkhouser (B) 33-4, Sr. over Oliver McKenzie (Wayn) 29-4, Sr. (Dec 5-2).
285: Nathan Henderson (Wayn) 33-9, Sr. over Daniel Kiser (Fort) 21-10, Sr. (Dec 4-0).
3A West Regional Qualifiers (Rockingham County):
106: Angel Osorio (13-14, So.), 4th
120: Sebastian Phillips (29-9, So.), 3rd
126: Drew Diaz (34-2, Sr.), 1st
132: Kyle Rocheford (25-14, So.), 2nd
145: Tristan Bailey (29-7, Sr.), 2nd
160: Mitchell Bryant (7-4, Jr.), 4th
170: Dustin Ward (27-10, Jr.), 1st
182: Patrick Smith (17-14, Sr.), 4th
220: Tyler Funkhouser (33-4, Sr.), 1st
285: Thomas Kriston (23-13, Sr.), 3rd
113: Lenee Figliola (22-16, Sr.), 2nd
TURNER ASHBY (10)
106: Dalton Farley (29-7, So.), 1st
113: Walker Shull (24-12, So.), 3rd
120: Brandon Garcia (26-6, So), 1st
132: Jacob Ritchie (31-3, Sr.), 1st
138: Marty Ritchie (19-9, Sr.), 3rd
152: Caleb Liskey (21-9, So.), 1st
160: Dylan Kerns (11-10, So.), 2nd
170: Lukas Shifflett (16-11, Jr.), 2nd
182: Kolton Windsor (10-12, Sr.), 3rd
195: Jacob Senger (22-11, So.), 4th
Conference 23 Tournament
At John Handley High School,
Team scores: 1. Handley 255, 2. Louisa 222, 3. Amherst 190, 4. Harrisonburg 151, 5. Fluvanna 73, 6. Charlottesville 70.
106: Andrew Germelman (Handley) 24-19, So. over Jake Urbanski (Harrisonburg) 13-17, Fr. (Fall 1:24).
113: Jeffery Sisk (Louisa) 44-1, So. over Tony Mazariegos (Handley) 9-20, Jr. (Fall 0:36).
120: Lio Quezada (Handley) 42-6, So. over Corey Champion (Louisa) 40-6, So. (Dec 7-0).
126: Anthony Cruz (Harrisonburg) 26-16, So. over Hunter Berkey (Amherst) 13-18, Fr. (Fall 1:19).
132: Cam Bentley (Handley) 34-17, Fr. over Richard Gallegos (Louisa) 31-14, Jr. (Dec 5-0).
138: Randy Rustick (Louisa) 25-6, Fr. over Garrett Patnode (Handley) 20-25, Jr. (Fall 3:18).
145: Octavious Jones (Amherst) 20-16, Fr. over Brian Comploier (Louisa) 23-9, Jr. (Dec 5-4)
152: Dolan Delany (Handley) 30-20, So. over Dylan Dawson (Amherst) 30-10, Jr. (SV-1 12-7).
160: Gavin Tingen (Louisa) 39-3, Sr. over Jacob Brooks (Amherst) 26-8, Jr. (Fall 0:39).
170: Wade Kammauff (Charlottesville) 32-0, Sr. over James Cusick (Louisa) 32-11, Sr. (Dec 7-4).
182: Artem Makayed (Harrisonburg) 33-3, Sr. over Coby Pitcock (Handley) 33-9, Sr. (Dec 10-7).
195: Jeffrey Allen (Amherst) 37-6, Fr. over Trevor Jackson (Harrisonburg) 32-8, Sr. (Fall 4:37).
220: Trey Eubank (Amherst) 28-9, Sr. over Tommy Shea-Roop (Handley) 36-11, So. (Fall 1:57).
285: Jordan Dowrey (Handley) 40-0, Sr. over Jon Briggs (Amherst) 28-8, Sr. (Fall 1:53).
4A North Regional Qualifiers (Harrisonburg):
106: Jake Urbanski (13-17, Fr.), 2nd
126: Anthony Cruz (26-6, So.), 1st
132: Jesus Carcamo (9-20, So.), 3rd
138: Leobardo Estrada (11-19, Fr.), 4th
170: Yad Kabachy (12-23, Jr.), 4th
182: Artem Makayed (33-3, Sr.), 1st
195: Trevor Jackson (32-8, Sr.), 2nd
220: Noel Jiminez (18-6, Jr.), 3rd
285: Michael Osorio (17-8, Sr.), 3rd