The Big Orange wrestling team had two wrestlers in the state final as William Byrd finished eighth in the Virginia High School League Class 3 state tournament. New Kent High, the pre-tourney favorite, won the state championship at the Salem Civic Center.
New Kent finished with 273 points to top second place Skyline by exactly 100 points. Staunton River, the Region Blue Ridge District and 3D champ, was third with 158 and Byrd was eighth with 65 points, just one fewer than seventh place Lord Botetourt as Blue Ridge District teams took three of the top eight spots.
Two Terriers made the championship round. Junior Xavier Preston came into the weekend undefeated, then won his first three matches to improve to 29-0 and earn a spot on the championship mat Saturday night. However, Xavier ran into three time state champ Nick Vafiadis of New Kent, and he made it four in a row with a 10-3 win over Preston in the final.
Senior Hunter Richards improved to 27-4 with three wins in his first three matches, but he was pinned by Aiden LaComa of Christiansburg in the 285 pound championship match. Lacoma had also defeated Hunter in the region final.
“Hunter lost to a previous state champion and Xavier lost to a four-time state champion,” said Byrd coach Thomas Kessler. “Both wrestled tough and we are proud of their season.”
Also scoring for the Orangemen was Dominic Pascoe, who took sixth place at 120. Gage Cockran lost in the blood round at 113, needing just one more win to earn a spot on the podium. Bricen Lancaster won one match at 145 and Aiden Lucas also competed at 195.
“We will return a lot of our lineup next year and we are very excited about the eighth grade group that is moving up next year,” said Kessler.