By BRIAN HUNSICKER
Brandon Lawn, a rising senior and standout wrestler at Colonial Forge, was killed in an apparent job-related accident in Stafford County on Tuesday.
A spokesperson at the Occupational Safety & Health Administration office in Richmond said an accident involving a fatality had been reported late Tuesday afternoon, and OSHA began an on-site investigation later in the evening.
Since the investigation is ongoing, the OSHA spokesperson said she could not comment further.
Lawn wrestled for the Eagles’ varsity team in each of the past three seasons. He won one Commonwealth District title and might have had a second, if many of the postseason tournaments had not been canceled because of this winter’s heavy snow.
He held a career record of 84-48, including a 30-15 mark this past season. In the 2002-03 Northwest Region tournament, Lawn lost in the 125-pound quarterfinals but battled through the loser’s bracket to claim third place. At the Group AAA state meet, he was also knocked out in the quarterfinals of the championship bracket. He wrestled through until losing to Stonewall Jackson’s Brian Graney in the consolation quarterfinals, but won fifth place via a forfeit.
”I just think of what a great kid he was. He’s been coming to Stafford County wrestling camps since he was in like sixth grade,” said Brooke Point coach Mike Smoot. ”He was a polite kid, always smiling. You can’t say enough good things about him … It’s a shock.”
”He had a great attitude, a great work ethic,” said Colonial Forge activities director Brian Collier, who worked with Lawn during his time as trainer. ”We’re still in shock.”
In addition to the summer camps, Smoot got a chance to see Lawn wrestle in the Eagles-Black Hawks dual meets and throughout the post-season.
”He would go out of his way to help other people. He led by example for the younger kids when he was older at the camps,” Smoot explained. ”He’d help out at the camps, and he really liked helping the younger kids. He’s one of those kids that you’d go out of your way to wish him good luck before a match.”
During Lawn’s sophomore year, Lawn won his only district title, beating Brooke Point’s Austin Gamlin in the 112-pound finals by a 13-1 major decision. During the Northwest Region tournament, Lawn finished third. In the Group AAA meet, Lawn lost in the first round to eventual finalist Jonathan Anderson of Ocean Lakes. He won one match in the consolation round before being eliminated from the tournament.
While Lawn won only one individual title during his career, he was part of a Colonial Forge team that was hugely successful. The Eagles have won Commonwealth District team titles in each of the past three seasons and Northwest Region titles in each of the past two. During Lawn’s three years, Colonial Forge has never finished outside of the top six at states, and finished as high as second in his sophomore campaign.
Smoot added that Lawn’s work ethic was a key to posting a winning percentage just over 63%.
”He was a hard worker,” Smoot added. ”Not a lot of his talent came naturally, he was more blue-collar. It was work, work, work.”
The beginning of the school year, now only a few weeks away, becomes much more difficult for those at Colonial Forge.
”It’s going to affect a lot of people,” Collier said. ”It’s been real tough around here. He’s part of the family, and everybody feels the loss.”