The march to Salem is officially on for Valley District wrestlers.
The Valley District wrestling championships are set to take place on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Rockbridge County. If inclement weather forces a change, Thursday is the likely make-up date, multiple school administrators told the Daily News-Record on Tuesday.
Last year, Turner Ashby captured its first team title in quite some time, but this year's race is competitive and perhaps the most wide-open it has been in several years.
The Knights will have their chances, led by veteran head coach Marshall Smiley. Still, Broadway has appeared to be the district's top team in the regular season and is loaded with young talent, while Rockbridge County is a program that can sneak up on opponents quickly.
The 106-pound weight class will feature just three wrestlers, with Broadway's standout freshman Timmy Phillips (24-3) serving as the top seed while TA sophomore Sem Mussie (6-6) and Rockbridge freshman Graham Niebuer (8-16) sit in the second and third spots.
At 113, Knights junior Hunter Blosser (19-2) is in the top spot ahead of Gobblers freshman Evan Runion (12-8), RCHS freshman Hudson Ryan (18-11), and SHS junior Brittany Roadcap.
Wildcats junior Ryan Maxwell (27-13) is the top seed at 120, followed by Broadway sophomore Talon Whetzel (5-13) and Turner Ashby freshman Hunter Hughes (2-3).
At 126, Knights junior Jay Bowman (18-4) sits in front of Rockbridge County senior Zac Huntsman (9-15) and Broadway freshman Ryan Hardy (4-11).
Broadway's Jesse Miller, a junior, leads the 132-pound weight class with a 30-3 record, followed by TA senior Daniel Rogers (14-10) and RCHS freshman Markus Nelson (9-15).
Knights junior Nate Wilkins (12-7) is the top seed at 138, followed by Broadway's Matt Cox (11-11), Spotswood's Kellan Conahan, and Rockbridge junior Caiden Cavazos (14-16).
Another Broadway junior, Feodor Dronov (25-6), is the top seed in 144, with Turner Ashby junior standout Homer Doughty (13-8) at No. 2, followed by another junior in Rockbridge County's Aidan Williams (18-13) and Spotswood's young freshman Austin Dean.
Senior Zeke Mohr of Rockbridge County (27-10) is the top seed in 150, followed by Knights junior Tyler Balint (8-7), SHS junior Owen Hartman and Broadway's Baylan Nagy (10-15).
In the 157 class, Rockbridge's Thomas Maxwell (26-12) leads the way, with Broadway's Caiden Jones (13-12), Spotswood's Dawson Simons, and TA's Kevin Riddel (3-7) behind.
One of the area's best wrestlers in Broadway standout junior Jackson Wells comes into the 165-pound weight class at No. 1 with an 8-0 record while Rockbridge's Tucker Towle (18-9), Spotswood's Eli Hawkinberry, and TA's Isaac Hiner (10-12) are aiming to challenge.
RCHS senior Brice Hall (29-1) highlights the 175-pound class with TA's Dalton Ray (9-8), Broadway's Landon Taylor (9-13), and Trailblazers junior Issac Tlaxcala following behind.
Broadway senior Aidan Wimer (25-9) is the top wrestler at 190, with Knights junior Emikal Porter (8-5) as No. 2, Rockbridge County junior Sawyer Hattersley (20-14) sitting at No. 3, and Spotswood freshman Grayson Farrell earning the fourth and final spot.
At 215, Gobblers junior Drake Garrison (30-1) aims to continue his dominant season with Rockbridge's Je'san Henderson (24-11), TA's Daniel Offenbacker (6-7), and Spotswood's Aaron Hernandez, a freshman suited behind him as the final three seeds in that class.
Finally, Turner Ashby senior Kevin Knight (16-3) looks to cap off a stellar career with a district title as he enters as the top heavyweight wrestler, ahead of Rockbridge's John Lindberg (16-13), Broadway senior Dalton Fulk (12-15) and Spotswood's Adam Hannoon.