The Louisa Lions wrestling team claimed the Jefferson District Title at home on Jan. 25, sweeping the field against Albemarle, Charlottesville and Orange County high schools.
Three days later, they traveled to Orange County to participate in the second annual Coach K Memorial Tournament.
Before last Wednesday’s district match got underway, the Lions took time to honor the team’s seniors: Wrestlers Liam Buddendeck and Jeremiah Grimsley, and team manager Abbey Hudson.
“It was definitely emotional, knowing it was my last match,” Grimsley said. “I wanted to give it my all and be remembered by the other wrestlers.”
The Lions faced Albemarle first, setting the tone for the night with a 60-21 win over the Patriots.
Grimsley and Buddendeck each pinned their opponents, as did Austin Mills, Mason Morris, Noah Buddendeck, Ben Froschauer and Tony Thurston.
Against Charlottesville, the Lions scored another decisive victory with a score of 81-0. Most of the Lions’ points came from forfeits as the Black Knights only fielded three wrestlers. Alex Washington won his match by a 12-2 decision, while Kyle Alberts and Logan Yancey each won by pin.
The Orange County Hornets proved to be a far tougher opponent for the Lions.
The Lions took an 18-3 lead early in the match. Morris, Jaret Grimsley, Jeremiah Grimsley and Noah Buddendeck each won their matches by decisions for three team
points apiece. Froschauer’s pin of Dylan Hale gave them an added boost to that lead.
Then things started to swing back to the Hornets. A pair of forfeits and Dustin Shifflett’s pinning of Liam Buddendeck put them up 24-18.
Thurston got a quick pin over Orange’s Raymon Pierce to tie the match, and a 5-3 decision for Louisa’s Zion Villines put the Lions up 27-24. Jayden Joseph got a pin over Louisa’s Nathan Schwartz to give the Hornets back the lead 30-27, but a six-point win by forfeit for Austin Mills made the difference for the Lions, making the score 33-30 in favor of Louisa.
“The team showed a lot of heart out on the mat,” Gallo said. “We really didn’t match up that well against Orange and I knew it was going to be a close one. We came out on top on all of the close matches which was great to see.”
Once the match was over, the Lions could breathe a little easier, knowing that they were the 2016-17 Jefferson District Champions.
“That was our goal for the year,” Jeremiah Grimsley said. “Coach had been really pushing us, especially Monday and Tuesday, to get us to where we needed to be to win. It feels good for all our hard work to pay off.”
The Lions closed out their regular season on Jan. 28 with a trip to Orange County to take part in the Coach K Memorial Tournament. Louisa was one of 15 schools in attendance.
The Lions finished 10th overall in team competition. In individual competition, Mills was the highest placing Lion of the day, taking second in the 120 weight class after falling to Nik Gerard of Robinson High School in the championship round.
Jeremiah Grimsley had a good day in individual competition, getting his 100th win as a high school wrestler in his first match of the day, pinning Austin Hahn from Lynchburg’s Liberty Christian Academy.Grimsley would go on to win third in the 152 weight class after Orange County’s Riley Rudnick forfeited the third-place match. Grimsley’s brother, Jaret, finished fourth in the 132 class, falling to David Congleton of Woodbridge High School.
Other top finishers for the Lions were Morris, who defeated Andrew Wright of Riverbend High School in Fairfax to take third in the 126 weight class, and Villines who placed sixth in the 106 class.
“We had some really tough competition at this tournament,” Gallo said. “Most of the schools participating were five-A and six-A schools in the northern Virginia area. It was a great to get one last tough tournament before we head to post-season.”
Next up for the Lions is the Conference 19 tournament on Saturday, Feb. 4, at Caroline High School in Milford. The tournament will begin at 10 a.m.