By Sports editor Brian Hoffman
The William Byrd Big Orange wrestlers finished a solid sixth in the Class 3 state wrestling tournament at the Salem Civic Center Sunday. The tournament was moved from Thursday to Sunday due to inclement weather and held all on one day due to the coronavirus pandemic.
New Kent dominated the tournament with eight champions among the 14 weight classes in scoring 240 ½ points. Skyline was second with 166 points and three champions and Christiansburg was third with 115 and two champs. York and Wilson Memorial were next and then came Byrd with 74 ½ points and eight state medal winners.
Byrd’s top scorer was sophomore Xavier Preston at 152. He came in with a 5-0 record in Byrd’s abbreviated season and opened with a win over Sam Cooper of Independence. In the semifinals Xavier took on Jackson Wells of Broadway and won again, putting him in Sunday night’s final against Travis Ragland of New Kent, a former state champion. Xavier lost that match, 9-1, to take second in the state.
“The score in the finals was not a telling tale of the match,” said Byrd coach Thomas Kessler. “Ragland scored most of his points from small mistakes and Xavier had him on his heels in the final 30 seconds, pushing the pace and getting some stalling warnings. I was very proud of his effort and his growth in the past year.”
Three Terriers wrestled back to the Consolation Finals and finished fourth, Dominic Pascoe at 113, Derek Burton at 126 and Hunter Richards at 285. Sixth place medals went to Gage Cockran at 106, Dexter Gaines at 120, Steve Tingler at 138 and Jerze Webb at 182. Byrd qualified eight wrestlers for the tournament and all eight went home with state medals.
The Big Orange will return five of the eight placers next year. Burton, Tingler and Webb are seniors, Richards is a junior, Preston and Pascoe are sophomores and Cockran and Gaines are just freshmen.
“As always, we look to build off of what we have done going into next year,” said Kessler. “We, in the county, were not allowed to have a middle school team so I am going into next season somewhat blind as to what we have coming from the middle school.”