By Marty Gordon
Christiansburg High School’s six-year domination of its Big Blue Wrestling Invitational ended this past weekend as Staunton River emerged from the tournament as the 2022 top dog by compiling 197 points.
Christiansburg finished a distant third with Washington High School in second. Powhatan was fourth, Glenvar fifth, Blacksburg seventh, Salem ninth, William Byrd 10th, Hidden Valley 13th, Cave Spring 16th and Floyd 17th.
Christiansburg did have several individual winners. Jacob Baier led the Blue Demons contingent with a first at 160 pounds when an injury to his William Byrd opponent gave him the win. Luke Robie then took a 7-0 decision over Trey Lawrence of Glenvar for the title at 145. Robie would be named the event’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.
Aiden LaComa claimed one of Christiansburg’s first pins of the championship round at 2:43 against Tyler Nix of Brentsville, and Parker Ferrell dominated at 220 in a 16-0 decision over Hunter Brown of Staunton River.
Blacksburg’s Tharun Svetanant claimed first place at 138. Blacksburg’s Braden Henderson was second at 126 after following 7-2 in a decision to Jackson Stroud of Bentsville, and teammate Garrett Henderson would also finish second in 132 on a 3-2 decision to Jake Cline of Glenvar who took first place.
Other Christiansburg place winners were Bowman Altizer third at 182, J.J. Pociask fourth at 170, Zachary Cummings third at 152, and Jacob Manieri fifth at 138. Glenvar place winners were Ethan Flowers second at 152, Mason Hylton sixth at 120, and River Smith third at 113.
J.B. Dragovich of Hidden Valley claimed the top spot in 120.
Salem’s Samuel Miles took second in 182, Matthew McNeil sixth at 152, Kyman Kinnery fourth at 138, Haeden Smith seventh at 132, Ty Porter eighth in 120, Braden Armes seventh at 106, Jackson Bryie fourth at 220 and Linkin Callihan fifth at 195.
Blacksburg’s Ryan Ankrum was eighth in the 160 class while teammate Robert Baker also finished eighth at 145. Jackson Hardy finished eighth at 132, Jared Swift eighth at 113 and Jacob Honaker eighth at 106.
Big Blue officials took a moment to remember former Cave Spring and Christiansburg wrestler Kip Nininger who died last year in a tragic car accident. A Cave Spring mat and a Christiansburg wrestling mat were recognized in his honor.
Kip’s father, Chris, presented a check to the Virginia Elite Wrestling program, which is based in Christiansburg and provides the foundation for many wrestlers like his son in Southwest Virginia.
Two Nininger scholarships totaling $1,413 were presented to two participants, Garrett Henderson of Blacksburg and Luke Robie of Christiansburg. The scholarship amount, according to Chris, is a reference to his son’s favorite Bible verse 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”
Kip was a two-time state champion and a three-time place winner.
More than 100 golfers gathered at the Botetourt County Club in October to raise money for the scholarship fund.