By Marty Gordon
Staunton River High School continues to be one of the top wrestling programs in the state of Virginia, and Saturday, the school claimed another Big Blue tournament title at Christiansburg High School.
Staunton River outdistanced Brentsville 216. 5 to 193 and third-place William Byrd, which finished with 190.5 points.
Host Christiansburg was the highest placing area team finishing in ninth place with 131 points. Christianburg’s Brady Hand took first place in the 120 class, winning by major decision over opponent Dominc Pascoe of William Byrd in the finals match. Evan Mefford of Christiansburg took second place in the 126 class, and Jake Robie was a first-place winner at 150 pounds, defeating Bo Ice of Staunton River
Christiansburg’s Zack Cummings took fourth place in the 157 class.
Blacksburg High School finished tenth in the tournament with 99 points and Radford High School finished in 16th place with 54 points.
In the 215 class, Abdullah Mastrogiovan of Blacksburg took second place while Braeden Henderson claimed fourth place in the 126 class.
Charlie Davis of Radford took third place in the 215 class. Teammates Taven Williams placed fifth in the 150 class, Lance Duncan seventh in the 175 class, and Joshua Porter of Radford seventh in the 215 class.
As the tournament champion in the 120-lb. class, Staunton River’s Noah Nininger was named the “Most Outstanding Wrestler” of the tournament.
One of the top female wrestlers in the state, Natalia Sanchez of Powhatan, finished third in her Big Blue weight class and received the “Jackie Toney Memorial Scholarship,” presented by the Christiansburg Blue Demon Wrestling Club.
The $1,000 scholarship is in honor of Toney, who volunteered countless hours to promote the mission and vision of the club. The award is made during the tournament to a senior wrestler for the college of his or her choice. The wrestler must maintain a grade-point-average of at least 3.0 and must participate in the Big Blue Tournament.
Now a senior and coming off a junior year that featured state titles in the VAWA Folkstyle Championships and the Virginia Girls Championship, Sanchez is using her final year at Powhatan as a chance to get other girls involved in the program.
Powhatan now has five girl wrestlers on its roster.
Sanchez is currently ranked number 1 in the girls’ competition at 106 pounds.
As it stands now, Virginia has no female wrestling division. Female competitors have to compete with boys. Separate tournaments specifically for girls, like the Virginia Girls Wrestling Championship, exist and are sanctioned by the Virginia High School League. Sanchez brought home the Virginia Girls Wrestling Championship title this past season.
But the Virginia High School League is on the verge of adding girls wrestling as a sanctioned sport in the commonwealth. In September, the VHSL Executive Committee voted to designate girls wrestling as an “emerging sport” starting with the 2022-23 season.
Gage Cockram of William Byrd was honored for the most number of pins in the least amount of time during the tournament.