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Falcons shine individually, fall short collectively at 4A North Region wrestling meet

Monday, Feb. 17 | By Jeff Malmgren
Daniel Ariola (113 pounds) was one of four Fauquier wrestlers to win a Class 4A North Region championship Monday. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
The Fauquier Falcons juxtaposed for pictures Monday, so to speak.

First, one by one, Fauquier’s four individual champions climbed to the top of the medal stand to have photos taken of them during the Class 4A North Region wrestling tournament at Eastern View High. They became the first quartet of Falcons to win region titles together since the 2010-11 season.

Later, however, the entire Fauquier team had photos of it taken featuring the region runner-up trophy after the Falcons finished behind champion Sherando in the team standings. That marked the first time since the 2008-09 season that Fauquier failed to win a region title.

Those differing images created an interesting dichotomy.

“Four-for-four in the finals. It’s great,” said Daniel Ariola, Fauquier’s 113-pound champion.

As a team, however, “it’s a little bit of a disappointment,” said Matt Raines, Fauquier’s 138-pound champion. “We expected to win.”

Sherando won instead with 194.5 points. Fauquier placed second with 161 points, while Eastern View took third with 144.5 and Liberty finished 18th with 45.

“Sherando was a big surprise. They had a really good tournament,” Raines said. “They had a lot of people coming through the consolations to score a lot of points, and we didn’t.”

While the Falcons had more region finalists and region champions than any other North team, they had only seven total wrestlers win medals by placing among the top six in their weight classes. Sherando, on the other hand, logged 10 top-six finishes.

The Warriors’ depth allowed them to separate from Fauquier. P.K. Jessen won Sherando’s lone individual title at 170 pounds and two other Warriors lost in the finals. Eastern View, meanwhile, had six top-six wrestlers, including two runners-up and 132-pound champion Bryan Ramey.

The 4A North Region was also composed of fewer teams than Fauquier’s region last season – the Class AA Region II. A recent VHSL realignment spread teams across six classes rather than three as in the past, which also watered down the regions.

Fauquier coach Doug Fisher said that may have contributed to the outcome Saturday.

“There just wasn’t as much depth as we’ve had in the region in the past,” he said. “You really have three top teams and then it falls off pretty significantly” allowing the top teams to score a lot.

Fauquier finished with 13.5 more points at the North Region meet this season than it did during last season’s Region II meet, which it won with 147.5 points. Sherando’s 194.5 Monday dwarfed both those numbers.

“They came out of nowhere,” Ariola said of the Warriors. “I thought it was going to be another battle between us and Eastern View.”

Last weekend, Fauquier defeated Eastern View, 206.5-181, to win the Conference 22 tournament.

Four of Fauquier’s five individual conference champions went on to win region titles Monday. For that reason alone, it was a memorable tournament for the Falcons.

Fauquier last accomplished that feat during the 2010-11 season when Bennett Payne, Greg Flournoy, Van Grimes and Jake Fahlfeder all won Region II titles. The Falcons also had four champions in 2009-10 and 2008-09.

This season, freshman Kyle Roche won the 126-pound championship and sophomore Garrett Tingen won the 145 title, joining Ariola (junior) and Raines (junior) as Fauquier’s four North Region winners.

“We’re like a family,” Tingen said. “We cheer for each other and push each other to get better. It’s just a great team. That’s why there were four of us in the finals today, more than any other team.”

Meanwhile, for Liberty, George Ngoh qualified for state by placing fourth at 132 pounds with a 3-2 record, while Rico Bumbrey (170) went 3-3 and finished sixth. Carder Yurgaitis (220) went 2-2, while Todd Parker (285) went 2-2, Anthony Ramirez (106) went 1-2, T.J. Hogan (195) went 1-2 and Jayson Cody (120), Patrick Ewell (138), Cameron Yates (160) each went 0-2. Steven Halsey (182) went 0-2 via forfeit.

Elsewhere for Fauquier, Clifford Harrison qualified for state by placing third at 152 pounds with a consolation final win over John Handley’s Dolan Delany via pin in 1:55. Harrison went 4-1 in the tournament, while Vito Camarca (160) and Andrew Smith (182) each went 3-3 and placed sixth.

The Falcons’ Erick Lemus (170) went 2-2, while Thomas Palmer (220), Jake Hilleary (120) and Justin Sanker (285) went 1-2. Tyler Devers (195) went 0-2 and Trevor Marable (132) went 0-2 via forfeit.

So Harrison, Raines, Ariola, Tingen and Roche will compose Fauquier’s contingent at the 4A state tournament Feb. 21-22 at the Salem Civic Center.

“The five guys that are going, they wrestled their tails off” at the region meet, Fisher said. “They not only just won, they dominated.”

Tingen won the 145 championship over Eastern View's Austin Jenkins, 7-2. Raines won the 138 championship over Chancellor's Mark Weinstein with a pin in 1:22. Roche won the 126 championship over Woodbridge's Dulan Shockey with a pin in 5:56. Ariola won the 113 championship over Millbrook's Ryan Meashaw, 6-1.

Unfortunately for them, it could take a repeat performance next weekend if the Falcons hope to contend for the state title.

“It’s possible,” Fisher said of winning the state championship. “It’s going to be hard. If we would have gotten a couple more [wrestlers to qualify] we would have had a better chance.”

“We feel confident everybody going has a really good chance of making it to the finals,” Raines said. “If we all win, yeah, it’s enough.”

Last season, Fauquier also had five state-qualifying wrestlers, including Raines. He didn’t compete, though, after suffering a concussion during the region final. Nonetheless, the Falcons posted their seventh-consecutive top-10 finish at state by placing eighth.

That has created some optimism in Fauquier’s state-qualifying quintet this season.

“Five guys is definitely enough,” Ariola said.

“It’s pretty good studs that are going – all five of us,” Tingen said. “We’ll see what happens.”

Win, or not, the Falcons should lose only two starters to graduation following the season in seniors Sanker and Palmer.

“I’m excited for next year too,” Raines said. “We’re not really losing much. I think we’ll be a lot stronger.”

****Check the Wednesday print edition of the Fauquier Times for additional stories on Fauquier’s Ariola, Roche, Tingen, Harrison, Camarca, Smith and Raines, and Liberty’s Ngoh and Bumbrey.****

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