With athletes and coaches, it’s sometimes difficult to find quotable material that sticks out among the countless clichés and redundant statistics.
Wrestling coach Dean Hall made the search a lot easier on Tuesday as he focused on the second and final day of the Conference 23 wrestling tournament, which will be held at Harrisonburg High School on Saturday, Feb. 8.
“We will win this conference,” Hall said. “You can quote me. We will win Conference 23.”
Hall doesn’t lack confidence, and his team doesn’t lack credentials. So far this year, the team is 31-6 in dual matches – the 31 wins in a season is a school record – and they flat out dominated the Jefferson District tournament. They’re even ranked fifth in the Central Region Wrestling rankings, finding themselves on a list with powerhouse programs like Matoaca and Benedictine.
Louisa found success on the first leg of the Conference 23 tournament on Saturday, Feb.1, going 4-1, easily dispatching Amherst, Harrisonburg, Fluvanna and Charlottesville. The Lions hit a roadblock against John Handley though, falling 37-34. It was a close contest that saw Corey Champion lose the 120 lb. match 5-4 to Handley’s 2013 regional place-winner, Quezada Lio, and at the 132. lb match, Richard Gallegos was pinned with just half a minute left and leading 7-2.
The loss means Handley will have the top seed come Saturday, while Louisa will have to settle for second. As motivation, Hall and assistant coach Josh Sisk went out, bought some poster boards and adorned them with a direct message.
“You can’t win.”
“That’s what a lot of people are going to say about Louisa now. ‘Oh they had a good season with a new coach, but in the postseason they can’t win,’” Hall said. “I want those comments to burn, I want it to sear inside of our wrestlers.”
To read the entire story, see the Feb. 6 edition of The Central Virginian.