Hard work, preparation and the will to win are key in any sport. In wrestling, perhaps, the will to win is all one may have when one is seconds away from being pinned and has to get their shoulders off the mat. The Matoaca Warriors adopted that will to win and met their season goal last weekend at Robinson High School – that goal was to bring home Matoaca’s first state championship in school history.
“It was a blessing to come home with a state championship.” said Matoaca Head Coach Michael Moore. “It’s great for the school and the Central Region.”
Matoaca is no stranger to knocking on the door to success. In 2012, the team placed third in the state, and in 2013, the team finished fifth. Moore stated that he felt like this group had the experience and dedication to get it done early on this season.
“They just have that much more experience on what it takes to make it happen,” said Moore. “The team gained unity from that, and brought that unity back to the program.”
The Warriors took six athletes to the tournament – freshman Brandon Woody (106), senior Dylan Schuster (113), junior Adam Wilmer (120), senior Kyle Gordon (132), junior Neal Richards (145), and sophomore Anthony Helm (285). Mountain View was a favorite to win the title, carrying eight athletes to state- putting the pressure on the Warriors (who carried six) to perform with fewer scoring opportunities.
Richards, the heart and soul of the team, has been a leader despite his youth for the Warriors. Moore stated that his will to win was contagious, and spread throughout the team. The junior three-peated as state champion in dominating fashion. Next year, he’ll have a chance to become a rare four-time state champion at the high school level.
Gordon potentially had the toughest road to a state title, having to go through two former state champions to take it all. The senior’s last match was an overtime thriller, as the combatant took down his opponent in overtime to score the win, 3-1.
Schuster, who had never placed at state had an excellent senior season, working through injuries throughout his career to put it all together to win a crown.
“He’s a tough wrestler,” stated Moore. “He had the fortitude to come back and put it all together.”
Anthony Helm, the team’s heavyweight at 285 pounds, also plays defensive line for the Warriors. After a freshman season where he was state runner-up, he came a match away from a goal that he set as an eighth-grader – to be Matoaca’s first heavyweight state champion. Helm accomplished that goal in 2014.
Junior Adam Wilmer placed 3rd in the 126 weight class while freshman Brandon Woody placed fifth in the 106 weight class. Both finishes were also very important to the Warriors in the overall standings.
With a state title in hand, the Warriors are still a relatively young team with a chance to do some serious damage in the 2014-2015 campaign. Matoaca’s wrestling program has now solidified it’s billing as one of the top programs our area has to offer.