The Fauquier Falcons made history Saturday to repeat history.
They had six wrestlers win individual region championships for the first time since the program’s inception and used those performances to give Fauquier its ninth region team title over the past 11 seasons.
The Falcons beat runner-up Liberty 186.5-180.5 in the Class 4 Region C tournament on the road in Bealeton by rallying from a late 11.5-point deficit thanks to first-place finishes in four of the last six finals matches of the night. So the region meet played out like the Class 4 Northwestern District tournament last weekend, when Fauquier beat the Eagles by rallying from a huge deficit thanks to consecutive finals victories at 182, 195, 220 and 285 pounds.
This Saturday, Bryan Contreras gave Liberty a large lead at 180.5-169 by winning the 153-pound final, 11-3. But then the Falcons’ Eric DeWald upset Liberty’s Caleb Swinson in the 160 final, 3-1.
Swinson entered that match as the No. 1 seed with a pair of victories over DeWald during the regular season. Then Swinson took a 1-0 lead with an escape early in the second period while rebutting numerous chances to score for DeWald, but the Fauquier wrestler responded with the critical takedown when only two seconds remained in the period.
DeWald’s win narrowed the Falcons’ deficit to 180.5-173.
“From a motivational perspective, I think that had a huge impact,” Fauquier coach Doug Fisher said. “It definitely fired up our crowd.
“It got loud in there,” he said with appreciation for the rivalry that has developed with Liberty, and also Kettle Run. “It helps make us better and makes these events a lot more exciting.”
Liberty also lost the 170 final, leaving the Eagles with no other possibilities to score while Fauquier had wrestlers in the final four weights classes.
So the Falcons went to work.
Sam Fisher became the second four-time region champion in Fauquier history by beating Handly’s Kingsley Menifee 23-8 at 182 pounds. That technical fall cut Liberty’s lead to 180.5-178.5.
So Ben Bell’s victory in the 195 final clinched the team title for Fauquier. He beat Loudoun Valley’s Jack Shuford 5-1, and the Falcons’ Thomas Heisler followed with a 7-1 win over Loudoun County’s Calab Graham.
Fisher appreciated the Falcons’ perseverance.
“You’re going to get beat a lot,” he said. “You’re going to have to go through the grind, but there is light at the end of the tunnel.”
So winning meets late this season is “a validation of what we have preached,” he said.
Fisher also credited Fauquier’s captains, such as Gino Camarca, who won the 138-pound title over James Wood’s Christopher Nuss. Camarca amassed enough points to win by major decision in the third period, but he continued to work for a pin with only 15 seconds remaining in the match – recording the fall in 5 minutes, 45 seconds.
“He has his major,” Fisher said. “He could have ridden it out, but he didn’t.
“I think that is emblematic of one of your team captains,” the coach said. “He wasn’t content just to sit there.”
Earlier, freshman D.J. Richards registered the Falcons’ first win in the finals at 126 pounds, despite a rib injury. Then Casey Burr placed second at 285 with Reece Kuhns third at 120 and David DeWald fourth at 170.
Liberty also finished with a load of gold medals, as four of its six finalists placed first. Junior Mason Barrett won at 120, giving him three region crowns in his career, including two previously at 106. Then freshman Colin Dupill won the 132 championship, with Jovon Mitchell winning at 145 and Contreras winning at 152.
The Eagles’ Swinson and Royce Hall (170) were runners-up, while William Winegardner (138) and Wyheem Vessels (195) earned bronze medals.
Kettle Run’s lone state qualifier was Jacob Wirick, third at 220.
So Fauquier County has 18 wrestlers who qualified for the Class 4 state championships Friday and Saturday at Tuscarora High in Loudoun County. Fauquier advanced nine wrestlers, with eight for Liberty.