MECHANICSVILLE - Last year around this time, Sean Hall didn't get to wrestle in Lee-Davis' Holiday Classic tournament due to a shoulder injury. But he got to watch the matches, and he thought it was a cool experience.
"I'm glad I got to be in it this time," he said.
The Powhatan High School junior literally made the most of his opportunity, as he pinned all four of his opponents in the tournament to win the Classic's 126 weight class title and earn Outstanding Wrestler honors for the lower-weights division.
After earning a first-round bye, Hall pinned Louisa County’s Anthony Ciotola in 1:36 in the second round, Midlothian’s Alex MacFarlane in 23 seconds in the quarterfinals, Varina’s Caleb Olgers in 3:05 in the semifinals and Louisa’s Zion Villines in 55 seconds in the final.
All of his matches this year have resulted in bonus-point wins, as he has 8 pins and 1 tech fall.
“It was really cool to hear a lot of people were complimentary of him – other coaches from other teams,” head coach Jonathan Tanaka said Sunday. “He just looks really good – just works real hard and deserves everything he gets – a kid that puts in the time, so it’s good to see it pay off for him.”
Hall’s no-doubter stood apart in an otherwise unpredictable series of final matches on Saturday. In the other finals starring Powhatan, Hayden Fitzsimmons (182) lost a narrow 6-5 decision to Jamestown’s Kenneth James, and Linwood Hill (195), after taking a 7-2 lead, fell to Douglas Freeman’s Caleb Jacoby by pin.
Fitzsimmons pinned Monacan’s Ethan Garverick in 1:06 in the first round, Caroline’s Adam Swanton in 28 seconds in the second round and New Kent’s Kaleb Wiles in 1:35 in the quarterfinals. Fitzsimmons then defeated Lee-Davis’ Nolan Kruse by decision, 5-1. His final opponent, James, is someone he could see again this year in Class 4 postseason competition.
“It was a good match for him, a good first…final of a high school tournament, so nice for him to get there just to get the experience under his belt…win or loss,” Tanaka said of Fitzsimmons. “Hayden’s loss…6-5, you know he’s one takedown away from winning that match and from looking at video and talking to him on the way home, we know how…we want to attack that.”
Hill, who earned a first-round bye, reached his final by defeating Feeman’s Estrada by tech fall in the second round, pinning Jamestown’s Andrew Harris in 2:32 in the quarterfinals and besting Orange County’s Alex Burley by decision, 14-7 in the semifinals. While Tanaka said he ended getting “caught up there in a bad spot” that led to his pin, and that they should’ve “probably turned away,” their takeaways from Hill’s performance centered on how well he wrestled across the two-day tournament, and also on how very handily he was winning his final prior to getting pinned.
“Don’t let 10 or 15 seconds take away from the other 5 minutes of really good wrestling,” was Tanaka’s message; he added that Hill “really controlled and dominated matchups to that point.”
Additional placers for Powhatan were Tanner Palmore (4th, heavyweight), Bradey Lindhjem (5th, heavyweight), Matthew Bales (5th, 160) and Kieran Hathaway (6th, 106).
“The heavyweights was just a cool thing – those two guys practice every single day together; a lot of times only one of them will get to wrestle, so we got very fortunate that we were able to get Tanner and Bradey into the tournament, and they proved us right as to why we wanted to get them in there,” Tanaka said. “Really lucky to have both of them, and quite frankly they’re both going to make each other better every day.”
Bales was filling in for Adam Camp, who missed the tournament due to sickness, and he had been working really hard towards just trying to get better the last few months, according to his head coach.
Tanaka said it was “kind of a last-minute thing – we subbed him in there in the tournament” and he “shocks the world and gets in there and places 5th - lots of pins, lots of bonus points for the team, just super-cool.”
“I was really happy for him – he’s a junior who just started wrestling last year,” Tanaka said of Bales. “He’s a really nice kid that everybody likes being around, and I’m happy for him to be able to get on the podium.”
Tanaka added that 96-pound Hathaway wrestled a phenomenal tournament. The young wrestler has been getting used to the high school scene – trying to acclimate to the competition and to the size and maturity of his opponents – but he looked really, really good according to his head coach on Saturday. His highlights included winning a 10-8 thriller over Caroline’s Elizabeth Dosado; he jumped out to a quick start before fending off a fiery rally from last year’s Class 4 state qualifier. Hathaway could see Dosado again in postseason competition, including as early as the Region 4B tournament.
“That also puts us on the right track to know that if he keeps doing what he’s doing – keeps improving everyday like he has been…if he can wrestle like that, there’s a lot of possibilities for him,” Tanaka said of Hathaway.
Powhatan overall took fourth in the Classic with 171.5 points behind team champion Orange County (223.5 points), runner-up Lee-Davis (194) and third-place Fork Union Military Academy (175).
The Lee-Davis Holiday Classic could be seen as an early Christmas gift to wrestling fans, as the finals opened up with a 106 match that went four overtime periods deep and saw Henrico’s Jonathan Minor literally escape with the win (1-0) over Deep Run’s David Simon, and then ended with a classic heavyweight duel throughout which the crowd exploded into thunderous cheers as the advantage rapidly flipped back and forth between Orange County’s Ray Pierce and Hermitage’s Braulio Godinez before Pierce rolled on top and pulled off the crowd-pleasing pin.
Tanaka said that Saturday’s last final of the night “was a really fun way to end that tournament.” Pierce was named Outstanding Wrestler for the upper-weights division.
“Ray Pierce is just a kid that we all really respect, he’s a kid that works really hard and if you judge him by…the way we looks – not the most physically intimidating kid – but man…the kid knows how to wrestle, and he definitely isn’t scared to go out there and give it all he’s got,” Tanaka said. “The last few days actually, a lot of our kids went up to him and started talking to him, and I know I’ve had multiple conversations with him the last few days, and actually…Tanner Palmore’s 3rd place match, before the match he came by me…gave me some pointers as he had wrestled him in the semis and [said], ‘Hey Coach, watch out, he likes his cradle.’ Not something he has to do at all, giving a tip to quite frankly one of his competitors; [he’s] a kid that we’re going to see at the regional tournament. But just a nice kid.”
Powhatan is taking wrestlers down to Kissimmee, Florida for the weekend of Dec. 27-28 to compete in the challenging Knockout Christmas Classic; one of Tanaka’s friends, with whom he went to Longwood, is the tournament director, and Richard Fitzsimmons was key in organizing and lining everything up to set up the trip.
After that, Powhatan will compete in the Hawks Duals at Hanover High School on Saturday, Jan. 4, beginning at 10 a.m.
106-Minor (HENR) d. Simon (DPRN) UTB 1-0 (4OT)
113-Greslick (LOCO) p. McCall (FUMA) 1:37
120-Miayamoto (THDA) d. Kreamer (FUMA) 3:23
126-Hall (POWH) p. Villines (LOCO) 0:55
132-Painter (MIDL) d. Weeks (KIWI) 6-5
138-Bolstad (MIDL) d. McKay (DPRN) 7-0
145-Gregory (MIDL) d. Dosado (CAR) SV-1 7-5 (OT)
152-Berry (MIDL) d. Hale (ORCO) SV-1 11-9 (OT)
160-Sulser (LEDA) p. Townsend (NEKE) 2:29
170-Hurt (STCH) p. Jenkins (ORCO) 0:47
182-James (JAME) d. Fitzsimmons (POWH) 6-5
195-Jacoby (DSF) p. Hill (POWH) 4:44
220-Aldridge (LEDA) w. Kidd (KIGE) forfeit
285-Pierce (ORCO) p. Godinez (HERM) 3:24
106-Kincaid (ORCO) d. Duarte (ATLE) 11-6
113-Lilly (MIDL) d. Ciotola (LOCO) 6-3
120-Turner (ORCO) p. Maust (ATLE) 4:05
126-Cataldo (DPRN) d. Wilson (ORCO) 11-6
132-Hagen (JAME) d. Coyle (DPRN) 7-2
138-Morgan (PHA) p. Bradford (LOCO) 2:02
145-Gritsko (FUMA) d. Sadler (LEDA) 11-4
152-Scanlon (ATLE) d. Mesco (LEDA) 6-5
160-Fox (PHA) d. Fogg (FUMA) 7-5
170-O’Hanley (ATLE) p. McCallister (MAUR) 4:01
182-Sullivan (CARO) d. Bartholomew (MONA) 9-5
195-Torres (HERM) d. Blankenship (DPRN) 3-0
220-Wilson (ORCO) p. Melendez (CARO) 0:56
HWT-Holtz (DSF) p. Palmore (POWH) 1:38
106-Zanganeh (GLEN) p. Hathaway (POWH) 3:26
113-Kozubal (LEDA) p. Stansbury (PHA) 4:56
120-Mayhugh (DPRN) d. Koenig (LEDA) 6-3
126-Yates (FUMA) d. Olgers (VARI) 14-8
132-Rittenhouse (ATLE) p. Hewins (VARI) 0:34
138-Nash (VARI) d. Williams (NEKE) 8-4
145-Torbush (LOCO) d. Barrett (HERM) 5-2
152-Hanrahan (JAME) p. Ngwa (LEDA) 0:54
160-Bales (POWH) p. Morris (ATLE) 0:26
170-Russett (JAME) p. Bundy (FUMA) 3:38
182-Murrill (KIGE) p. Kruse (LEDA) 0:28
195-Tirpak (TDHA) d. Burley (ORCO) 5-2
220-Shibley (DSF) p. Shreve (FUMA) 2:37
HWT-Lindhjem (POWH) p. Eure (VARI) 3:37