The core of Brooke Point’s wrestling team is its seniors. There are six in the starting lineup, and all return from successful junior seasons.
That sounds a lot like last year’s Colonial Forge team: Led by a dominating senior class ‘ and talented underclassmen in other areas ‘ the Eagles won district and regional titles before finishing second in states to powerhouse Great Bridge.
In the Commonwealth District and Northwest Region tournaments, the team behind Colonial Forge was the same: Brooke Point.
And while the Eagles are certainly not hurting for talent, it’s the Black-Hawks that return the most successful senior class.
“We’ve got six very solid seniors,” said Black-Hawks coach Mike Smoot. “And [Mike] Cavender does a good job, so that’s seven tough kids [in a row].”
Most of that talent is concentrated in the middle weights. There’s just one junior in Brooke Point’s lineup from 130 to 171, Cavender at 135. All six return with impressive credentials.
Marcus Taylor is the lightest at 130, a tall wrestler for what might be expected from a 130-pounder. At last year’s Commonwealth District tournament, Taylor took second place behind the Eagles’ Kyle Graham, who finished his career as Virginia’s all-time winningest wrestler. At regionals, Taylor was fourth behind three seniors before winning one of three matches at states.
“With Graham gone, maybe I can win districts and regionals,” Taylor said.
After Cavender there’s Mark Yawman at 140. Yawman had results similar to Taylor: he lost to Colonial Forge’s Bruce Ross in the Commonwealth finals before taking fifth at regionals. Of the three juniors at 135 last year, Yawman is the only one expected to compete at 140 this year.
The versatile Brian Foley follows at 145. Foley, also a standout in football and soccer, is one of two returning Black-Hawks that won postseason titles last year. Foley was a district and regional champion, and followed that with a sixth-place finish at states.
His goal this year is five spots higher.
“I want to win a state title,” Foley said.
Eric Wills is next at 152, coming off a year in which he lost in overtime in the district final and lost a regional title by four points. At states, Wills was knocked out of the championship bracket in the second round, only to wrestle back to a sixth-place finish.
At 160 pounds is Ryan Mikula. Last season, he won the silver medal in the districts and was fourth in regionals. Like Taylor, Mikula compiled a 1-2 record at the state tournament.
Wrapping up the senior run is 171-pounder Brent Heflin, the defending district and regional champion. He won his first two matches at states before losing to eventual champion Ajay Foreman of Great Bridge in the quarterfinals. Heflin injury defaulted in his final match, for sixth place.
That’s a lot of success returning, but the Eagles will remain the defending champions at least until February. And Colonial Forge hardly lost its entire team ‘ Scott Fisher, one of the best wrestlers in the state at 152, returns, as do Matt Taylor, Jay Chichester, Dale Pellar and Willie Johnson.
“I think we have more kids that might place higher in the tournaments. But Chichester, Fisher and Taylor are solid, and they’ve got a solid team,” said Smoot. “It’s going to tough. It’s going to be a dogfight.”
Foley added that these seniors knew each other before high school, and their hard work since then culminates in their final high school season.
“We knew since eighth grade this would be our year,” Foley explained. “Now we have to capitalize on it.”