Manassas museums 10/25/00



wins states


Jim Crowley



    SALEM – Brentsville made history before the VHSL Group

A finals even began Saturday.

Brentsville set a Group A school record by capturing its seventh state

title Saturday at the Salem Civic Center. Six Tigers finished in the top

three of their respective weight classes, including two state champions:

freshman Luke Siler (119) and senior Zak Thompson (145).

The Tigers led from start to finish. All nine Tigers won their first-round

bouts Friday, and seven advanced to the semifinals Saturday morning.

While Siler and Thompson were the only Tigers to reach the finals, junior

Brian House (125), senior Charlie Peele (140), freshman Steve Yanchuk (189)

and junior Bert Schlegel (215) all survived the consolation bracket and

clinched third-place finishes. Their performances Saturday afternoon ensured

Brentsville’s victory before the championship finals that night.

Before the finals, Brentsville coach Thad Kiesnowski and company returned

to the Salem Civic Center Saturday evening to learn that they would be the

2001 champions. It’s Brentsville’s second state title in three years. Brentsville’s

2001 state championship trophy will be added to their 1974, ’75, ’93, ’94,

’96 and ’99.

Kiesnowski marveled about his youthful team’s accomplishment.

“These kids are just not mature enough to do this,” Kiesnowski

mused. “They just wrestled their butts off.

“It’s really amazing,” he added. “Here, I’ve got three

seniors and the rest of them are j.v. kids. They really melded together


Brentsville finished with 140 points while Clarke County was second

with 119 and Strasburg third with 105.5.

With Brentsville’s championship sealed, the only thing left was to crown

its finalists.

Siler’s postseason dominance was capped with a 15-2 major decision over

Fort Chiswell’s Franklin Jones in the 119 state final. Siler was undefeated

– and virtually unmatched – during the postseason, sweeping Bull Run District,

Region B and Group A titles.

“It’s great,” Siler said. “I’ve been wrestling for a

long time. The only thing that changed was working with a high school team

– and another thing is wrestling in a lot of open tournaments. You’ve got

to get the mat time in.”

Siler (32-10) became only the fourth freshman in Brentsville history

to win a state title.

“For the last month, (Siler) had been wrestling really tough,”

Kiesnowski said. “He’s got a lot of heart.

“He deserves it. And his dad deserves it as well.”

Siler’s father, Steve, wrestled for Kiesnowski and finished second in

the 1970-71 state tournament. And Steve Siler was as proud as a father could


“I’m glad for him, he’s done real well,” Steve Siler said.

“Every year he improves.”

The Silers were one of two father-son success stories for Brentsville

– Zak Thompson’s 6-2 state final win over Buffalo Gap’s Nick Hildebrand

at 145 secured the other.

Thompson edged a cautious Hildebrand, 5-3, for the Region B title.

In this weekend’s state final, it would again be a question of whether Thompson’s

technique would best Hildebrand’s strength.

Hildebrand came out aggressively against Thompson, but the Tigers senior

wouldn’t be pushed. Almost instinctively, Thompson made it 2-0 after scoring

a reversal with three seconds left in the first period.

“I seriously thought we had a minute and a half left,” Thompson

said. “I tried to keep my distance and wear him down.”

Thompson made it 4-0 late in the second with an escape and a penalty

point against Hildebrand. And Thompson’s reversal with 1:16 remaining in

the third would seal it.

“It’s a relief,” Thompson (40-3) said. “It’s been a very

long 13 years.”

It was Thompson’s second straight state title, and it gave him bragging

rights over his father, Alan, who was a 145-pound state champion at Herndon

High School in 1967. The younger Thompson had three district titles, three

regional titles and two state titles – all bested his father’s high school


When Zak Thompson stepped off his mat, he received a big hug from his

father, and Zak smilingly whispered in Alan’s ear: “I beat you.”

Alan Thompson couldn’t find the words to describe his elation for his


“I can’t explain it,” Alan Thompson smiled, adding: “He’s

better than I was.

“You couldn’t have asked for a better weekend.”

Last season, Thompson beat Manassas Park’s Shaun Guttridge in the 140

state finals. Right after that match, both friends agreed that this season

Thompson would move up to 145 and Guttridge would wrestle at 152 so they

could watch each other win state titles.

That wish came true after Guttridge (41-1) defeated Radford’s Cory Englehard

5-0 Saturday.

An aggressive Guttridge scored a reversal and three back points late

in the first period and the Cougar senior fended off any attack given by

Englehard for the next two periods.

“I feel like all my hard work has paid off,” a relieved Guttridge

said. “The match wasn’t pretty by far, but a win’s a win.”

Guttridge had come too far not to win. There were doubts about whether

Guttridge would even compete this year – a knee injury knocked him out for

more than two weeks at the beginning of the season. But the respected senior

came back even stronger, winning his first 35 matches.

When it was his turn to shine, Guttridge garnered the attention from

not just Zak Thompson, but from Brentsville and Manassas Park supporters


“He deserves it,” Alan Thompson said.

Manassas Park first-year coach Richard FitzSimmons rejoiced his standout’s

achievement – it was a long road.

“It’s been a rough year with the injuries. I thought this could

be the year from hell,” FitzSimmons said.

But Guttridge’s win overshadowed Manassas Park’s difficulties. The Cougars

finished with 30 points.

“It’s kind of the gold at the end of the rainbow,” FitzSimmons

said. “He’s just a great kid. He’s my first state champion and I’ll

never forget that.”

Group A Team Standings

Brentsville 140

Clarke County 119

Strasburg 105.5

Northumberland 92

J.J. Kelly 90

Mathews 88.5

Rural Retreat 86.5

Radford 85.5

Essex 61

Chilhowie 61



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