Nine Christiansburg wrestlers brought home individual state titles this weekend, and with them came another team state championship. Count it—17 straight crowns have been racked up by the Blue Demons. The Virginia High School League has not officially stated whether the win sets a new state record or not, but it could be one that’s a little hard to match or beat.
Coach Cliff Warden said he was so proud of this year’s team.
“They did a great job this year and in the state tournament,” he said.
In so many ways, Christiansburg has dominated the wrestling world, and Saturday, individual winners included: Ty Kwak, Erik Eva, Nick Giantonio, Xander Whitehurst, Marshall Keller, Garrett Kuchan and Brandon Crowder. Additionally, two other wrestlers, Nick Warden and Andy Smith, were state runner-ups. The individual wins fell one short of a previous record set by Christiansburg in 2002.
“I’m very proud of every kid on our roster, who all played a role on bringing home number 17. Our coaching staff works very hard, and the honor of another title is well deserved. I’m especially excited for Eva and Whitehurst, the two seniors who captured their first title,” the coach said.
The team took 13 wrestlers to the state tournament, and Warden said all contributed points to his team’s total.
“In my coaching career, I can never walk away from a state tournament content/complacent. Winning seven of nine in the finals was a great accomplishment for those individuals, but for our other six qualifiers that fell short of expectations, I feel their pain. That’s a feeling those guys will remember or be reminded of every lift, practice and match until they fulfill their goal,” Warden said.
Just a week earlier, the Blue Demons rolled through another regional tournament.
The last time the school lost in the postseason was 2001 when Wikipedia started, Apple released something called an iPod, Microsoft launched its XP operating system, Shrek the movie came out, George W. Bush was our 43rd President and the television show Survivor began its first run.
In several cases, most of the Christiansburg wrestlers were not even born when their school won the first state championship of the consecutive run.
Since the first, Christiansburg has netted 80 individual champions. Their names are written on the wall at both the high school and Hawkeye Wrestling Hall where the team trains during the offseason.
So many trophies line the shelves that some have to be stored on soda machines. They will have to make room for at least one more big one.
In winning the state title this year, Christiansburg finished with 258 total points. Warren County was second with 137 and Cave Spring third at 135.5 points. Staunton River finished fourth with 111 points.
Sunday night, parents and other supporters gathered to salute the champs. The team rode on top of a fire truck with a police escort from the high school to Hawkeye Hall.
They were treated to a banquet fitting a champion, and in most cases, it was the first time in six months the wrestlers were able to pig out.
“It’s hard being a wrestler,” one parent remarked, “cause you always have to worry about your weight, but not tonight.”
Christiansburg only graduates four seniors and will be looking for number 18 next season. Walden said he is positive the winning ways will continue into the future.
Giantonio, who is one of those seniors, said it’s sad that his Christiansburg career is over, but this year’s state championship is the sugar on top of an impressive career. The group of seniors finished their careers with close to 500 individual wins.
Warden said the returning wrestlers will take some time off, but they will be back on the mats soon.
“As for the future, we are going to relax a week or two and follow the Hokies to Chapel Hill for ACC’s and a few will go to Cleveland to NCAAs. Then we will return to the coast at the end of March and bring home some NHSCA All Americans.
Our spring/summer schedule is busy for all levels of the program and focus turned to #18 Sunday at the celebration,” he concluded.
Auburn finished 19th in 1A action.