Christiansburg picked up its 16th straight state championship Saturday at the Salem Civic Center, but this time it was tougher to come by. The defending champs tallied 204 points to out distant Cave Spring at 139 points.
The second place finishers made a run the final day with three first places. Christiansburg’s Hunter Bolen was the only winner for the champs. Cave Spring also had three runnerups.
Depth was a big for the Blue Demons as they brought 13 wrestlers to the state meet, while Cave Spring sent six wrestlers.
Ironically Cave Spring Coach Tim Nininger is a former Christiansburg wrestler.
Head Coach Sonny Close called it an overall good performance. The key, according to the coach, was placing 10 wrestlers.
“Nick Giantonio, Gage Levine, Erik Eva, and Ty Kwak all lost tough semi-finals matches and came back the next morning to pin their way to third. They actually scored more points than if they had made it to the finals and lost. It takes a lot of guts bounce back like that,” Close said.
Bolen took a technical fall in the finals to move his overall mark to 37-1. He will wrestle for Virginia Tech next season.
Christiansburg’s Marshall Keller advanced to another finals at 132 pounds, but the two-time state champ fell 6-4 on a decision to New Kent’s Caden Darber.
Brandon Crowder was a runner up along Xander Whitehurst, Marshall Keller and Josh Linkous.
Close looked at as a process. “We just got beat in some key situations. 138 and 120 both wrestled well but they had tough kids, and 106 and 132 both came down to split second mistakes that their opponents pounced on. There was nothing systemic or terribly meaningful about it. It’s a brutal sport, and I don’t mean physically. Months of effort come down to fractions of an inch,” he said.
Will there be a 17th title? Close said it’s early to be even thinking about it, but yes it’s in the back of many people’s minds.
“Honestly that sort of pressure doesn’t really start until about a week before districts, but yeah you feel it. The goal is to stay focused on the process and until it goes away,” he said.