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Fauquier recovers from district wrestling loss to win region

Saturday, Feb. 9 | By Jeff Malmgren
The Fauquier Falcons celebrate their fourth consecutive Region II championship Saturday at John Champe in Aldie. --Times-Democrat Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
For the first time in seven years, the Fauquier Falcons entered a region wrestling tournament Saturday without the confidence of being a district champion.

They won anyway.

Fauquier overcame a historic loss to the Brentsville Tigers at the Evergreen District tournament last weekend to win its fourth consecutive Region II title. The Falcons beat the Tigers and three other district champions at John Champe High School on Saturday.

Fauquier scored 147.5 points, while Loudoun County and Skyline tied for second with 144.5 each and Brentsville finished fourth with 133.5. The Kettle Run Cougars placed eighth with 105.5 points, while the Liberty Eagles took 20th with 23 points.

"I am just shocked," Falcons coach Doug Fisher said of his team's victory. "We have absolutely no business even competing for the [region title], let alone winning it. Essentially three returning starters from last year – that's what we have."

Fauquier won its fourth consecutive Region II championship thanks to first-place finishes (tied for the most with Brentsville) by Matt Raines, Michael Villalobos and Max Strum, as well as a runner-up finish by Daniel Ariola and a third-place finish by Garrett Tingen.

Those five Falcons also qualified for state by placing in the top-four.

Raines won Fauquier's first individual championship at 132 pounds via injury default. He trailed 3-1, but then Brentsville's Justice Jacobs was penalized a point for head-to-head contact with Raines, which caused the Fauquier wrestler to fall to his back. Raines briefly lost consciousness, Fisher said, and was taken to the hospital.

Villalobos followed with a 5-3 victory in overtime over Skyline's Josiah Huston in the 145-pound final. He scored a takedown 38 seconds into overtime to win.

Then Strum scored the Falcons' winning points in the 182 final. He beat Kettle Run's Adam Bresson, 12-5, getting revenge for a loss to Bresson last weekend in the district final. As a result, Fauquier beat Brentsville by three points in the team standings.

"It all came down to a couple points – super close – and almost every [Fauquier wrestler] who came scored points," Fisher said.

For Fauquier, Ariola lost to Brentsville's Brenden Valez, 3-1, in the 113 final, while Tingen beat Skyline's Noah Goss, 8-5, in the consolation finals at 126 pounds, Clifford Harris took sixth at 138, Caleb Strum went 2-2 at 106, Andrew Smith went 1-2 at 152, Ben Brady went 1-2 at 160, Erick Lemus went 1-2 at 170 and Justin Sanker went 0-2 at 285.

Last weekend, Fauquier lost the district title by one and a half points to Brentsville, 162.5-161, ending the Falcons' streak of consecutive district titles at seven. They returned Saturday determined rather than demoralized.

"I'm not sure a lot of them believed we could win the district, but then when we got so close I think they understood that we could have and they felt the regret," Fisher said. "Each one of them felt like they could have done something different – gotten another point. That's all it would have taken, and they took ownership of that."

Fisher said the Falcons had their best week of practice between the district loss and the start of the region meet Friday.

"I knew coming in we were as prepared as we were going to be, but I wasn't sure we even had the horses to even really push for the title," he said.

They did.

Meanwhile, for Kettle Run, Bresson and Caleb Yost became the first Cougars in history to advance to the region finals. Yost lost to Briar Woods' Michael Hulcher, 7-5.

Also for Kettle Run, Collin Kratzer placed fourth at 132 pounds and Cameron O'Conner took fourth at 138. Both qualified for state. Elsewhere, the Cougars' Evan Rankin placed sixth at 145, Brandon James took sixth at 152, Travis Weeks went 2-2 at 220, David Libby went 1-2 at 120, Jacob Schwind went 1-2 at 195, Colson James went 0-2 at 160 and Jean Garcia went 0-2 at 285.

Liberty's Todd Parker finished fifth at 285, Rico Bumbrey went 2-2 at 170, Cameron Yates went 0-2 at 152 and Carder Yurgaitis went 0-2 at 220.
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