TA Edges HHS For 15th Straight District Wrestling Title
BRIDGEWATER – Never in his wildest dreams could senior Nic Moyers imagine the course of events that would bring him to the crossroads of a Valley District heavyweight title and team championship.
But there the first-year wrestler stood, lightly loosening his limbs with a decade-plus string of district titles on the line for Turner Ashby High School.
“I was just focused on winning,” said Moyers, a former center who took up wrestling only after not making the TA basketball team.
With Harrisonburg’s squad reacting to every move and clinging to a half-point lead, Moyers pinned Fort Defiance’s Daniel Kiser 31 seconds into the second period to lift the Knights to an unlikely 15th straight district title Saturday.
“We definitely believed it was possible,” said four-time district champion Luke Kiser, who repeated as the Valley’s Most Outstanding Wrestler in cruising to the 152-pound title. “I don’t know if anybody else did. We had such a young team. Everybody was counting us out since the beginning.”
The Knights – who finished third in the regular season – graduated four Group AA state wrestlers from last year and lost a fifth, junior Jackson Reel, to a tragic car accident on Oct. 30, just six days shy of TA’s first in-season practice.
Prior to Saturday’s championship introductions, TA honored Reel with a moment of silence. And Kiser (38-1) honored his former teammate by wearing Reel’s custom-made singlet in the finals.
“I’m just thinking, you know, you don’t really know what to think, because it makes you miss him so much,” Kiser said. “But in my mind, I said, ‘This is for him, and I’m going to go out there and wrestle the hardest I can for him.’ Because you know if he was here, he’d be wrestling his hardest.”
Kiser has now won district titles at 125, 130, 145 and 152.
The Knights sent the most wrestlers into the finals with seven and crowned five champions, as they topped regular-season champion Harrisonburg 187.5-182. Waynesboro finished third (150.5), followed by Broadway (128), Fort Defiance (80), Spotswood (39) and R.E. Lee (30).
A win by pin in the finals was worth six points.
“You couldn’t ask for a closer match,” said HHS coach Mike Dickerson, who was named Coach of the Year. “…We knew going in that [if Ahmad] Salehi won, that put us ahead, and we were all standing on the sideline watching like everybody else. It was crazy.”
Salehi sure made it interesting, surviving in triple overtime to win the 195-pound title by a 5-3 decision over Broadway’s Tyler Funkhouser. Junior 160-pound champion Artem Makayed led HHS, going 2-0 with pins of 33 seconds and 1:06.
Broadway had three champions: juniors Drew Diaz (113) and Tristan Bailey (132) and freshman Brandon Gill (145).
Moyers (20-2) wasn’t the only first-year wrestler making an impact for TA. Freshmen Dalton Farley (106) and Brandon Garcia (113) each made the finals, with Farley winning a title over Spotswood’s Lenee Figliola, who became the Valley’s first female champion last season.
Like Moyers, junior 120-pounder Jacob Ritchie earned a key pin for TA in the championship round with just 14 seconds left, securing the maximum six points for the match (via two bonus points).
“I knew that if we were going to win it, we were going to have to have contributions from everybody,” said Smiley, who will advance 12 Knights to the Region III tournament at Rockbridge on Friday and Saturday.
HHS will also have 12 representatives. TA, though, will have more No. 1 seeds after looking like a different team than the one that squared off against the Blue Streaks at HHS in early December.
“They were leaps and bounds ahead of us in that tournament,” Smiley recalled. “I knew it wasn’t going to be easy for us to come out of here as district champs, but we’ve made so much ground from the beginning of the year to where we are now.”
And it all came down to a heavyweight for TA.
“It’s weird how things happen,” Kiser said. “Yeah. We still won.”
Valley District Wrestling Tournament
at Turner Ashby High School
Team scores: 1. Turner Ashby 187.5, 2. Harrisonburg 182, 3. Waynesboro 150.5, 4. Broadway 128, 5. Fort Defiance 80, 6. Spotswood 39, 7. R.E. Lee 30.
106—Dalton Farley (TA) dec Lenee Figliola (S), 6-0
113—Drew Diaz (B) dec Brandon Garcia (TA), 4-0
120—Jacob Ritchie (TA) fall Camden Jarvis (W), 5:46
126—Parker Williams (W) fall Tony Do (H), 5:31
132—Tristan Bailey (B) dec Isaac Diehl (FD), 5-4
138—David Oliver (W) dec Anies Denar (H), 7-1
145—Brandon Gill (B) M-dec Morgan Forloines (S), 11-3
152—Luke Kiser (TA) M-dec David Kestner (W), 12-4
160—Artem Makayed (H) fall Brett Kowalski (TA), 1:06
170—Joe Kaminski (FD) fall Trevor Jackson (H), 4:43
182—Josh Powers (TA) dec Kahwan Veney (W), 9-3
195—Ahmad Salehi (H) dec Tyler Funkhouser (B), 5-3
220—Oliver McKenzie (W) fall Josh Kaminski (FD), 3:59
285—Nic Moyers (TA) fall Daniel Kiser (FD), 2:31
Region III Qualifiers
TA (12): Dalton Farley (106), Brandon Garcia (113), Jacob Ritchie (120), Marty Ritchie (126), Jarrett Price (132), Caleb Liskey (138), Luke Kiser (152), Brett Kowalski (160), Jacob Senger (170), Josh Powers (182), Colton Windsor (195), Nic Moyers (285).
HHS (12): Gerson Quintanilla (113), Tony Do (126), Jordan Dove (132), Anies Denar (138), Ahmed Mustafa (145), Zeki Salehi (152), Artem Makayed (160), Trevor Jackson (170), Kyle Jackson (182), Ahmad Salehi (195), Trent Sosa (220), Michael Osorio (285).
WHS (10): Tanner Dellet-Wion (106), Jeffrey Bowers (113), Camden Jarvis (120), Parker Williams (126), David Oliver (138), David Kestner (152), Kendall Gallenis (160), Mason Miner (170), Kahwan Veney (182), Oliver McKenzie (220).
BHS (10): Jefferson Guzman-Villa (106), Drew Diaz (113), Sebastian Phillips (120), Tristan Bailey (132), Brandon Gill (145), Dylan Moyers (152), Dustin Ward (160), Tyler Funkhouser (195), B.J. Sonifrank (220), Joe Funkhouser (285).
FDHS (5): Corey Colvin (120), Isaac Diehl (132), Joe Kaminski (170), Josh Kaminski (220), Daniel Kiser (285).
REL (4): Matt Ferguson (126), Ian Fox (145), Dylan Giovine (182), Justin Clifton (195).
SHS (3): Lenee Figliola (106), Tyler Miller (138), Morgan Forloines (145).