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Fauquier wrestling ties best team finish at state with unprecedented 3 champions

Saturday, Feb. 22 | By Jeff Malmgren
Daniel Ariola won the 113-pound championship at the Class 4A state tournament Saturday. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger

A pin kept the Fauquier Falcons’ bubble from bursting.

The Falcons were at risk of falling out of contention for the runner-up trophy at the Class 4A state wrestling tournament Saturday and receiving nothing more than pats on the back for finishing third. Then, however, they went 3-0 in the finals, benefited from some serendipitous losses by their rivals and picked up a pair of pivotal bonus points.

So, despite facing long odds, Fauquier did place second in the team standings at Salem Civic Center with a pin by Matt Raines providing the bonus points that ultimately separated the Falcons from third-place Smithfield.

Hanover won the state title with 96 points, while Fauquier finished with 90.5. Smithfield took third with 88.5 points and Eastern View finished fourth with 87.5.

With the runner-up finish, the Falcons tied for their best state placement in history and extended their streak of top-10 placements at state to eight-consecutive seasons. That happened, in large part, because Fauquier also set a program record with three individual state championships.

Daniel Ariola, Matt Raines and Garrett Tingen became the first trio of Fauquier teammates to win state titles in one season.

"We made history," Raines said. "That's big."

Ariola began the historic day by beating Millbrook's Ryan Meushaw, 5-2, during the 113-pound final. Then Raines defeated Chancellor's Mark Weinstock during the 138 final via pin in 3 minutes, 2 seconds. Tingen followed with a 3-2 victory over Eastern View's Austin Jenkins in the 145 final.

"An awesome thing for all of us," Tingen said. "Super ecstatic to ... share it with each other.

"We figured it was possible for at least a couple of us to get first," he said.

Nay, it was probable. All three Falcons entered the finals as favorites because, on Monday, during the finals of the 4A North Region tournament, they defeated the same trio of opponents to win championships. Ariola beat Meushaw, 6-1; Raines defeated Weinstock via pin in 1:22; and Tingen topped Jenkins, 7-2.

"I guess the North Region is just tougher than the South Region," Raines said of the same six wrestlers advancing to the region and state finals.

Elsewhere at states, Liberty placed 33rd in 4A thanks to three points from George Ngoh, who took seventh at 132 pounds with an 11-3 win over Grafton's Brian Dicesare.

In the 3A competition, the Kettle Run Cougars finished 16th with 23 points, while Christiansburg won with 101.5 points. Kettle Run's Cameron O'Connor placed third by winning the 132-pound consolation final, 5-1, over Turner Ashby's Jacob Ritchie, while Adam Bresson took fourth after losing the 195 consolation final, 9-2, to Waynesboro's Kehwan Veney.

Nothing, though, compared to the Falcons’ accomplishments, which made them one of the most successful Fauquier squads in history.

In 2009, the Falcons placed second at the Class AAA state tournament – its best finish in history. One season later, Fauquier won multiple individual state championships for the first time. Ryan Hunsberger won a 125 title at the Class AA tournament and Conner Miller won a 145 championship. They were also the last Falcons to win state titles prior to Saturday.

"Three-for-three in the finals. It's unbelievable," Ariola said of his 2014 trio. “Taking second [as a team] at states with all underclassmen, it's something great.”

Ariola and Raines are juniors, while Tingen is a sophomore. Plus, Clifford Harrison, who placed fourth at 152 pounds, is only a sophomore and Kyle Roche, who finished fourth at 126, is a freshman.

While it’s easy to point to Raines’ two bonus points as the difference between Fauquier and Smithfield in the final standings, his performance wouldn’t have mattered if everything else hadn’t fallen into place.

In fact, Fauquier didn't clinch the state runner-up trophy until the final match of the night – a 285-pound bout between Smithfield's Ross Manfred and John Handley's Jordan Dowrey. Manfred lost, 2-0, ensuring that Smithfield wouldn't pass the Falcons in the standings.

"We all knew the team race was going to be close," Raines said. "That's why we were all excited during finals, trying to keep track of the team score. It was a lot of fun."

Fauquier's three finals matches played out perfectly, as did Smithfield's three. First, Ariola survived Meushaw’s best effort against him this season. Then Raines won his 138 final and picked up those bonus points with the pin. Finally, Tingen's victory put pressure on Smithfield, which had fallen behind Fauquier in the standings after the Falcons’ three consecutive wins.

Immediately after Tingen's match, Smithfield's Carter Page lost to Hanover's Corbin Allen, 3-2 at 152 pounds. Later, Smithfield's Nick Kennedy lost to Dinwiddie's Aaron Vaughan, 5-3, at 220. And, finally, Manfred lost to Dowrey.

So, the Falcons finished two points ahead of Smithfield in the final standings – the exact value of Raines' pin in the finals.

"He got the bonus, and that's this," Fauquier coach Doug Fisher said as he raised the runner-up trophy with his hand.

****Check the Wednesday print edition of the Fauquier Times for additional stories on Fauquier’s Ariola, Raines, Tingen, Harrison and Roche, and Kettle Run's O'Conner and Bresson.****

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