The Central Region has always taken a back seat to the Eastern and Northern Regions when it comes to state wrestling. All of that changed last weekend at Robinson High School in Fairfax as the Central Region captured five state titles and four runner-up medals in what is hoped to be a shifting of power in the state. The Beach area’s Frank Cox still controlled the team title with Robinson placing second, but names like Hopewell, James River, Hanover and Matoaca followed closely on the leader board.
Nine athletes from Matoaca and Dale made up the Chester-area contingency in the state tournament. The best news is that of these nine, only Dale’s James White has completed his eligibility.
Leading the group was Blake Roulo, who took the 140-pound weight class with a 3-2 decision over Kellam’s Aaron D’Amico. Blake had been denied the two previous seasons, finishing third as a freshman and second as a sophomore. In workmanlike fashion, Roulo controlled each of his matches, gaining the state title that now makes his illustrious high school career complete.
In Saturday night’s tightest and tensest match, Roulo’s teammate Josh Clark (145) fell to nationally ranked Ben Dorsay of Cox. Dorsey earned an escape in the final 15 seconds of the third overtime to edge the disappointed Clark 2-1. Clark was the aggressor throughout the match, but could never gain the takedown against the three-time state champion.
Matoaca’s Austin Akins (seventh) earned all-state honors at 189, while Dale’s Brandon Diamond (eighth) was all-state at 152. Underclassmen Alex Turley, Michael Harris, Xavier Edwards and Michael Peters all made their first appearances in state competition.
Two of the evening’s happiest onlookers were Brian Kane and George Pierson. Kane, the longtime coach at Meadowbrook, was “Mr. Wrestling” in Chesterfield County for many years. He was “thrilled to see Richmond area wrestling get to this level.” Pierson was one of the founders of the youth wrestling program in southern Chesterfield.
“Blake and Josh started with me when they were four,” Pierson said as he stood with his grandson first in line an hour prior to the opening of the gate. “I intend to get a good seat.” Pierson was also instrumental in the development of Adrian Austin, Matoaca’s previous state champion who went on to star at George Mason.
Chesterfield’s neighbors to the east at Hopewell High took fifth place in the team race, as brothers Cody and Clint Allala won titles at 152 and 171.