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Liberty wrestling continues to look toward future as youth program grows

Tuesday, Dec. 31 | By Fred Hodge
Heavyweight Todd Parker and the Liberty High wrestling team took third at the 12-team Raiders Classic. Teammate Jason Cody won at 120. Coach Wes Hawkins is tackling a tough schedule to prep his team for postseason. --Fauquier Times Staff Photo/Randy Litzinger
The Liberty High wrestling team has a core of seasoned grapplers and early season results have shown promise.

But coach Wes Hawkins reminds fans of the Eagles' wrestling program that it's still evolving. He notes having a youth program will pay off down the road. "It all starts with our youth program," Hawkins said as the Eagles prepared to continue their taxing schedule.

"That's the state of high school wrestling now," continued Hawkins, who believes the better programs introduce wrestlers to the sport in elementary school.

"You can wrestle through two straight summers, but that not going to make up for 12 years in the sport.

"Our kids are very strong. We work hard in the weight room. We're just a little bit inexperienced in mat time."

Liberty opened its season on Dec. 3 by downing Stonewall Jackson and North Stafford, while falling to South County.

Then, at the Dec. 7 Stonewall Duals, the Eagles went 3-2, running their mark to 5-3 in the early going.

Marc Ramirez (106 pounds) and Jason Cody (120) both went 5-0 for the day, while Cameron Yates was 3-0 at 170, and Rico Bumbrey went 4-1 at 182.

On Dec. 14, Liberty placed third out of 12 teams at the Stonewall Jackson Raiders Classic. This despite having entries in just 10 of the 14 weight classes due to conflicts with SAT taking and other events.

Cody won first place at the Raiders Classic, while George Ngoh (132), Bumbrey and Parker (285) all took silver. Yates was third, with Carder Yurgaitis (220) also third.

Hawkins said many of his wrestlers were bumped up one weight for the first three events. Those Eagles will drop to their optimal weights for the remainder of the year.

Hawkins expects to be challenged all season as he prepares his troops for the all-important postseason tournaments.

He notes his team is wrestling bigger schools.

"We're wrestling 6A and 5A schools. I want to say, 'Hey, I got my kids ready,'" said Hawkins.

The postseason landscape has changed this winter, as both Eastern View and Fauquier are members of Conference 22.

Eastern View was third in last year's Group 4A state event and returns 11 veterans, while Fauquier was eighth.

Only the two top wrestlers in each weight class will advance to the 4A North Region event out of the conference tourney.

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