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Bull Run rules in

Group A

Brentsville finishes second in repeat bid

By Jim Cowley

Manassas Journal Messenger

SALEM – Mess with Bull Run District wrestlers, and you’ll get the


Three Bull Run District teams finished in the top four during the Group

A State Wrestling Tournament Saturday at the Salem Civic Center, including

Brentsville placing second (126.5 points), and Manassas Park finishing fourth


Brentsville fell five points shy of defending its state crown, which

Strasburg won with 131.5 points. As they did all season, the Rams relied

on its deep squad to rack up points. Brian Kibler took first in the 103-pound

class, Travis Bowers finished second at 135, Robert Olson placed third at

119, and three others scored with fourth-place finishes.

“It’s just a really great feeling,” Strasburg coach Ricky

Bowley said about winning his second team state title, fourth in school

history. “You put in so many hours and work so hard to win a team title.”

All 10 Strasburg wrestlers scored during the two-day tourney.

Brentsville produced two state champs this year – Zak Thompson, who

won the 140 title against Manassas Park’s Shaun Guttridge, and Brian House

in the 119 class. However, defending Tiger champs Patrick O’Neill and Erik

Croushorn both took second in 130 and 145 brackets, respectively. Ed Yanchuck

ended up third at 171 pounds.

Visibly disappointed about not winning a second straight team championship,

Brentsville coach Thad Kiesnowski said his club fared well, but quipped

that it’s always better to win than to not finish on top.

“We wrestled a pretty good tournament,” Brentsville coach

Thad Kiesnowski said. “Some kids lost, some kids won. Obviously not

enough won. Our kids were not doing everything that they could. We just

came up a bit short.”

However, Kiesnowski intimated that the program’s future remains bright,

especially with Thompson returning as a senior next year and House becoming

a junior.

“We’re going to build for next year; we have a lot to look forward

to,” Kiesnowski added.

Manassas Park scored 115.5 points and took fourth place – only 4.5 points

fewer than third-place Riverheads. Two Cougars nabbed state championships

– Mike Harms (112) and Brett Jenkins, who successfully defended his title

at 160. Guttridge (140) placed second, Daniel Wadel (103) took third, and

Matt Grey (275) finished fourth.

Manassas Park coach Jeff Florio had full confidence going into states

that the Cougars were contenders, but said afterwards, it takes numbers

to make a run at a Group A championship.

“We talked for three weeks now that we were in contention, and

realistically we were one quality kid short of being there,” Florio

said. “If I had one more kid here that could score points or one more

kid that could have gotten in the top four, then we’re going to take one

of those trophies.

“We did everything we could. I mean, I’ve got three fifth-place

kids sitting home from the regionals. One of those kids gets here and maybe

we get a medal.”

Harms (32-4) rolled through the 112 groupings and picked up an 8-2 decision

over Michael Jordan (24-5) of Northumberland. The Manassas Park junior came

out of the gates aggressively, but only managed a 2-0 lead after the first


In the second, Jordan escaped with :18 left, making it 2-1. However,

Harms took Jordan down twice in the third to close the deal. The Cougar

newcomer was pleased to say the least.

“This is my first time in the state finals. I was so fired up,

and I just wanted out there and stick it to him,” Harms said. “I

had to to keep going at him and not let him get anything.”

Harms said he was at first nervous about high expectations placed on

him to win, but in the end, it was one of his biggest motivators.

“I think that did help me,” Harms said of the pressure, “because

if I lose, I’ll let everyone down. I knew I couldn’t do that. My mom, my

family’s here, my friends are here, they all want me to win it so bad.”

Jenkins’ (36-3) work was cut out for him in defending his 160 championship

against Matthew Smith (25-4) of Northumberland. Jenkins coasted to an 8-3

lead in the first period. But the Cougar senior had to survive a near fall

at 1:20 in the second. Smith cut Jenkins’ advantage to 11-9 in the second,

but a late scoring spree by Jenkins in the third was enough to take home

the hardware.

After fighting through a 4-3 decision in his semifinal match earlier

in the day, Brentsville’s House (38-5) had little trouble against Lucas

Odom (29-6) of Chilhowie, grabbing the 119 championship with a 6-2 decision.

But perhaps the most intriguing match was in the 140 final, pitting rivals

Thompson (42-2) of Brentsville and Guttridge (32-9) of Manassas Park. The

two had wrestled three times previously this season, with Thompson winning

each, and the Tiger junior made it four wins in a tight 4-3 decision.

After Guttridge jumped out to a 2-0 lead, Thompson escaped twice, knotting

it up at 2-2 with 1:49 remaining in the second. Thompson seized the momentum

with a take down, making the score 4-2 with :51 ticks left.

Photo by Amy Drewry


Gutridge closed out the second with a technical point to make it 4-3.

The grapplers locked up all through the third, with neither able to establish

dominance. Thompson fended off a last-grasp effort by Guttridge to tie or

possibly win.

Another drag-out battle with Guttridge behind him, Thompson looked equally

happy and relieved to win. But he said their past matchups are just that

– the past.

“It’s a totally different ball game, everything’s gone, it’s like

a fresh start,” Thompson said. “It never happened before. You

just go out and give it your best.

“This is 12 years of work; it’s very satisfying.”

Thompson added that while he and Guttridge are rivals on the mat, they

have “total respect for each other.” Thompson said they even had

a chance to chat about mutual opponents prior to the match.

Both Kiesnowksi and Florio concurred that the Thompson-Guttridge matchup

has somewhat become a microcosm of the Tiger-Cougar feud. For Kiesnowski,

competition between the two programs reminds his grapplers that there is

always someone close behind. The Tiger coach of 29 years said the pressure

is healthy.

“I think there’s a lot of pressure on our kids to keep a high level

of competition; they don’t want to feel that they’re less than anyone,”

Kiesnowski said.

As for Florio, he acknowledged Manassas Park hasn’t always been able

to give Brentsville a run for its money, but he expects his program to make

great strides and remains optimistic.

“Considering the inequities of this overall program,” Florio

said, we’re not going to take a shot at them (Brentsville) every year. But

next year? Maybe next year.”

Croushorn (41-3), the 1999 state champ at 140, lost a 3-2 decision to

George Webb (35-5) of Madison County in the 145 finals, and fellow defending

state champion O’Neill (36-7) lost in the 130 finals to Jason Alldredge

(31-0) of Riverheads.

Photo by Amy Drewry


Brentsville 171-pounder Ed Yanchuk (21-9) avenged a quarterfinal loss

to Ted Shilling (14-5) of Rural Retreat by holding on for a 4-3 decision

over Shilling in the consolation final.

In the “file-under-perserverance” category, Manassas Park

freshman Brian Wadel took third place overall at 103 after dropping a major

decision loss to eventual championship finalist Abraham Solis of Arcadia.

Wadel defeated Derek Sizemore of Holston by a 10-2 major decision.

“He’s come out of nowhere,” coach Florio said of Wadel. “He’s

been wrestling tough and losing reasonably close matches to good kids. It

looks to me, everyday he’s gotten better. He got real nasty here, in terms

of wrestling, being mean.”

Matt Grey of Manassas Park finished fourth overall in the 275-pound

class after losing to Josh Jackson of Coeburn.

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