Mr. Observer's 2012 AAA State Tournament Recap

Mr. Observer’s 2012 AAA
State Tournament Recap
(State Wide Edition)
By: Mr. Observer
What I picked correctly: Badua over Aloi - I really liked Gregory in his position, but Aloi has
also been tough all year. Badua had an easier road to the finals, but getting by Manley was
going to be tough. Badua was on a mission though and he didn’t slow down until he won his
first state title.
Didn’t see that coming: Bryce Gentry has been in the mix all year. However, he has lost his fair
share of close matches to top competition. It was nice to see the young man step up this
weekend and reposition himself at the top of the discussion for next year.
Final State Rankings:
1. Sean Badua – 11 – Osbourn Park
2. Tommy Aloi – 11 – Forest Park
3. JD Gregory – 9 – Hanover
4. Jonny Lopez – 12 – Mountain View
5. Bryce Gentry – 11 – Colonial Forge
6. Sean Button – 10 – Kellam
What I picked correctly: Dalton Henderson - This junior looked vulnerable for a quick minute
this weekend in the semi-finals, and that was about it. He looked completely in control during
his 15-4 finals match. Henderson was one of the few bright spots for a region that had an
uncharacteristically down year by Eastern Region standards.
Didn’t see that coming: I knew Corey Leonard was an excellent freshman, but he really showed
some moxie in his loss to Dalton Henderson. He gave up a quick five point move to start the
match and then battled back to close it to 5-4, before Henderson took control. He gives
Thomas Dale and the Central Region another threat to the state title next year.
Final State Rankings:
1. Dalton Henderson – 11 – Ocean Lakes
2. Corey Leonard – 9 – Thomas Dale
3. Eric Merriam – 10 – Great Bridge
4. Josue Beltran Jr. – 9 – Mountain View
5. Jeff Stone – 9 – Colonial Forge
6. Ibrahim Bunduka – 10 – TC Williams
What I picked correctly: Neal Richards – The freshman was very good on his feet the whole
tournament. He won matches from the neutral position early and often. It didn’t matter that
he didn’t look as comfortable on the mat as he did on his feet. He played to his strengths and
that was takedowns. A similar philosophy as Blake Roulo, a former Matoaca state champion.
The thing that really is scary is to see what he is like as a senior and is more well rounded. I
mean if he is already knocking off nationally ranked wrestlers, the ceiling is very high for him.
Provided he can stay grounded.
Didn’t see that coming: I came away from this weekend very impressed with Madison’s Robert
Dooley. I thought for sure we would see Cam Timok and Connor Mairena would battle it out
for the right to face Richards. However, the Northern Region champion held strong in a couple
of tough matches to advance to the finals in his senior year.
Final State Rankings:
1. Neal Richards – 9 – Matoaca
2. Robert Dooley – 12 – Madison
3. Connor Mairena – 12 – Colonial Forge
4. Eddie Bracy – 11 – Ocean Lakes
5. Brett Campbell – 12 – Westfield
6. Cam Timok – 10 – Hermitage
What I picked correctly: Dane Harlow - Michael Hayes almost made a liar out of me. Which
should not be a surprise to me as I went back and forth on who would win this semifinal match
more than most of my other picks. I knew the winner of this match would go on to win the
title. Hayes has looked great at times this year (5-4 loss to Jeske), but Harlow has been there
before and his composure in big matches proved to be the slightest of differences. Especially in
the end of his match with Hayes when he rallied to pull out the win.
Didn’t see that coming: Steven Cotnoir was positioned nicely to advance to the finals of this
bracket, although I thought Gordon would edge him in the semifinals. Instead, Cotnoir showed
why he was the Eastern Region Champion. In his semifinal match he gave up a takedown to
Gordon, but pulled out a reversal at the end of the match to advance to the finals. He didn’t
have much of an answer for a determined Dane Harlow, but he didn’t have to in order to prove
he was one of the state’s best wrestlers.
Final State Rankings:
1. Dane Harlowe – 12 – Annandale
2. Michael Hayes – 12 – Colonial Forge
3. Steven Cotnoir – 12 – Hickory
4. Kyle Gordon – 10 – Matoaca
5. Cody Marino – 12 – Mountain View
6. Louie Altamirano – 12 – Kempsville
What I picked correctly: Henry Majano in the Finals - The two time finalist showed why he was
worthy of my selection to make it to the finals when he outlasted Matoaca’s Jamarr Hairston.
Hairston jumped out to a 5-1 lead and appeared he would runaway with the match. Majano
had other ideas. He took a first period deficit and swung the momentum completely back in his
favor for the remainder of the match to advance 7-5. He followed that up with nearly winning
the title later that night.
Didn’t see that coming: Dennis Gustafson will eventually make the state finals. I have picked
him to make it to the finals each of the past two years. He is an ultra talented wrestler that has
lost one point semifinal matches the last two years. Going into his senior year, I can see him
finally putting it all together.
Final State Rankings:
1. Christian Olanowski – 12 – Kellam
2. Henry Majano – 12 – Wakefield
3. Dennis Gustafson – 11 – Forest Park
4. Jamarr Hairston – 12 – Matoaca
5. Tony Neis – 11 – Colonial Forge
6. Jerry Ronnau – 11 – Midlothian
What I picked correctly: Santiago Valdez - Valdez accomplished what many fans were
confused about… who would win the extremely deep 138lb weight class. I had Valdez over
Derek Arnold in the finals. Fortunately, Valdez was able to string together four complete
matches on his way to going out as a state champion in his senior year.
Didn’t see that coming: I thought about going with Taylor Misuna as my sleeper, but opted for
Brayden Manchester instead. So naturally, Misuna went out and dispatch the Northern Region
and Central Region champions on his way to the finals. From there he nearly pulled off the
upset. Misuna has improved immensely from last season. He will definitely be one to watch
next season.
Final State Rankings:
1. Santiago Valdez – 12 – Robinson
2. Taylor Musina – 10 – Grassfield
3. Sahid Kargbo – 12 – Hayfield
4. Emmitt Kelley – 12 – Freedom
5. Ross Benzel – 12 – Kellam
6. Brayden Manchester – 12 – James River
What I picked correctly: Zach Kechter vs. Brooks Martino – A popular pick among many fans
across the state, these two wrestlers proved they were the best in the state at this weight. This
match had a major storyline of Kechter trying to get over the hump of winning a state title by
capping off an undefeated year against a returning state champion. A champion he already
defeated once this year. However, it was Brooks Martino that scored the decisive takedown in
the 3rd period to claim his second straight title.
Didn’t see that coming: When you see a 4th place from the Eastern Region and the 3rd place
finisher from the Northwest region battling it out for 3 rd place, you know there was some
surprises in the brackets. That didn’t stop Kellam junior, Tim Antonelli from joining Osbourn’s
Christian Garcia in the top four of the state. Antonelli started the tournament losing a tough 20 match to Northwest Region champion, Sean Murphy, in the first round. After that he won 3
one point matches and a 3 point match over the Central Region champion, before falling 7-5 for
4th place. Garcia meanwhile didn’t have as tough of a road, which could have been the
difference for this senior as he finished 3rd.
Final State Rankings:
1. Brooks Martino – 12 – Robinson
2. Zach Kechter – 12 – Salem
3. Christian Garcia – 12 – Osbourn
4. Tim Antonelli – 11 – Kellam
5. Rory Renzi – 11 – Lake Braddock
6. Stephen Aiello – 12 – Westfield
What I picked correctly: Beau Donahue vs. Kevin Johnson - I honestly thought this was
Johnson’s year and that the talented senior wasn’t going to be denied his elusive state title.
However, Donahue joined Martino as wrestlers who avenged early season defeats in the state
Didn’t see that coming: Jonathan Faul of Stone Bridge may have been the Northern Region’s
3rd best wrestler, but that didn’t matter this past weekend. Faul was 4-0 in matches decided by
3 points or less. Two of those wins were by 2 points each over Eastern Region champion, Ryan
Fairbee. Faul saved the best for last as the senior wrestled extremely well in the final
tournament of his high school career.
Final State Rankings:
1. Kevin Johnson – 12 – Forest Park
2. Beau Donahue – 11 – Westfield
3. Jake Sage – 12 – Lake Braddock
4. Jonathan Faul – 12 – Stone Bridge
5. Ryan Fairbee – 12 – Grassfield
6. Alex Turley – 12 – Thomas Dale
What I picked correctly: Cody Allala - A wrestler who will be missed. He brought a level of
respect to our region and hope to the other regions outside of the Eastern region. Being a 4x
State champion is not just an Eastern Region “thing” anymore. He closed out his senior year
with his best wrestling. Two years ago he barely got out of the first round. In last year’s
championship, he was pushed into a two point match. There was not of that this year as Allala
tech-falled his first three opponents before coming up just short of a tech-fall in the finals,
winning 14-2. I believe a healthy Cody Allala is the best wrestler in the state, and he showed
that this weekend.
Didn’t see that coming: Aside from great performance from Gregory, another Capital District
freshman had a solid showing. Lee Davis freshman, Chris Morris managed to win a match
against the Northern Region runner-up before bowing out of the tournament. Overall, it was a
great experience for all four wrestlers as they all return next year.
Final State Rankings:
1. Cody Allala – 12 – Hopewell
2. Brett Stein – 11 – South County
3. Ryan Forrest – 12 – South Lakes
4. Mark Darr – 12 – CD Hylton
5. Jonathan Simmons – 12 – Robinson
6. Torrance Brown – 11 – Salem
What I picked correctly: Tanner Tinsley - The moment I learned of Zach Martinez’s injury
keeping him out for a while, I felt Tinsley’s chances of repeating as a state champion improved
significantly. Martinez is still a fantastic wrestler, but trying to return to top form is too much
to ask. Especially, when Tinsley has been in top form for most of the season. Tinsley is a very
physical, low scoring type of wrestler. He knows how to evade scoring opportunities by his
opponents, which he did consistently throughout the weekend to win his second title.
Didn’t see that coming: Gunter Dickson has been solid all season, but it was his wins over Zach
Martinez that really showed how much he has improved from last season. Dickson lost close
matches t Tinsley and Martinez at the beginning of the season. So when he bounced Martinez
into the consolation bracket with a 9-3 decision really caught my attention. He then followed
that match by proving he was better than Martinez this weekend when he defeated him 4-2 for
3rd place.
Final State Rankings:
1. Tanner Tinsley – 12 – Hanover
2. Ryland O’Brien – 11 – First Colonial
3. Gunter Dickson – 12 – Cox
4. Zach Martinez – 11 – Colonial Forge
5. Ryan Sepulveda – 12 – Centreville
6. Dusty Floyd – 12 – Mount Vernon
What I picked correctly: David Reck - David Reck may not have the numerous state titles of
some of the other wrestlers in the state, but he was clearly one of the top wrestlers in the
state. The Beast of the East runner-up avenged his loss in the final this season. In fact, I would
probably guess that loss made Reck that much more determined to finish out his year in
fashion. Two pins and two major decisions later, and he finally achieved that state title he has
been after for a couple of years now.
Didn’t see that coming: This weight class became a three horse race among the regions. The
Northern Region wrestlers didn’t make it out of the second round of consolations as the Central
Region and Eastern Region each placed three apiece in the top eight, while the Northwest
Regional finalists took center stage for the state final. Especially insightful was the 8-2 victory
Isaac Mackey of Atlee had over Northern Region champion, Nick Hoy of Madison. Mackey was
a 4th place finisher in the Central Region, but is a much better wrestler than what you would
normally expect out of a 4th seed. Overall though, it appears this was more about the depth of
the other regions, than anything else.
Final State Rankings:
1. David Reck – 12 – Colonial Forge
2. Corbin Ramos – 11 – Matoaca
3. Tyler Young – 12 – Freedom
4. Stacey Kennedy – 12 – Oscar Smith
5. Jamaal Worsham – 12 – Meadowbrook
6. Jalen Slaughter – 11 – Great Bridge
What I picked correctly: Logan Jackson - Jackson did a fantastic job of establishing the early
lead and holding on for the victory. In both of his day two matches, Jackson used an escape to
decide both of his matches, 1-0. Jackson is an undersized wrestler for his weight class, but what
he lacks in size he more than makes up with his intelligence and ability to ride the wrestler from
the top position.
Didn’t see that coming: Mark Garrity wrestled extremely well this weekend. The senior’s only
loss was a 3-2 loss to state finalist Aaron Rowe of Indian River. Garrity then exacted some
revenge against Omar Howard of Midlothian for 3rd place. Howard had bested Garrity 3-1 at
the season opening Hopewell Classic.
Final State Rankings:
1. Logan Jackson – 12 – Stafford
2. Aaron Rowe – 12 – Indian River
3. Mark Garrity – 12 – Colonial Forge
4. Omar Howard – 12 – Midlothian
5. Jeffrey Stephens – 12 – Salem
6. David Cheveney – 12 – Centreville
What I picked correctly: Ali Ali Musa - I really honed in on Musa’s potential in last season’s
state tournament. You could tell he was a year away, but would eventually become a
contender for the title. He wrestled his best match of the tournament in the semifinals when
he took a 7-2 win over Quinton Winters to advance to the finals. He eventually won the title
with a 2-0 victory in the championship, but not without some tense moments.
Didn’t see that coming: Through the first day of the tournament, Riverbend’s Steve Sarver
wrestled more like a potential finalist than the 4th seed out of the Northwest region. His
shocking 11-4 first round in over Meadowbrook’s Marcus Beckwith was eye opening to the
entire bracket. After making the semifinals and securing a top six finish in the state, that is
exactly where he ended up. A sixth place finish for a regional 4th place finisher is a fantastic
accomplishment for the senior.
Final State Rankings:
1. Ali Ali Musa – 12 – Annandale
2. Quinton Winters – 12 – Colonial Forge
3. Marcus Beckwith – 12 – Meadowbrook
4. Eldon Valery – 11 – Landstown
5. Henry Reeves – 12 - Hanover
6. Eric Hess – 11 – Deep Run
What I picked correctly: DeQuante Timbers - If it was your first time watching Timbers wrestle
this weekend, then you were as surprised as I was at how he was aggressive and strong he was
with his throws. He overwhelmed all four of his opponents in way or another. One of the best
heavyweights I have seen in a while. It was easy to see why he was so highly regarded coming
out of AA.
Didn’t see that coming: Charlie Whelden went from a 4th seed out of the Northern Region to
the 4th place finisher in the state. After suffering a narrow 1-0 loss to the Eastern Region
champion, Whelden battled back to win 4 straight matches, including wins over the Eastern
Region’s top two placers in the consolation bracket. He eventually lost a tough 2-1 decision to
Northern Region runner-up, Matt Crawford. In fact, it was the Northern Region that placed all
four of its wrestlers in the top 5 in the state.
Final State Rankings:
1. DaQuante Timbers – 12 – Freedom
2. Jake Pinkston – 10 – Robinson
3. Matt Crawford – 12 – Marshall
4. Brian Jefferson – 11 - Annandale
5. Charlie Whelden – 12 – Yorktown
6. Tony Williams – 12 – Great Bridge
(Keep Scrolling Down)
A look ahead to 2012-2013
- Slowing down Forge? – Two years ago, Colonial Forge finished a respectable, but distant 6th place. Last
year they finished 3rd. This year they took a big step forward with overall team depth. The result… a
runaway state title. All with only one finalist. Which speaks volumes to how deep of a team they were.
But then again, their dual match victory already hammered that point home. Now before everyone gets
excited over the fact that we have had three different team champions over the last three years,
understand this. Forge is not going anywhere. They return a wealth of talent. They return five
wrestlers who placed: Bryce Gentry (11), Jeff Stone (9), Tony Neis (11), Sean Murphy (11), and Zach
Martinez (11) are all returning. They also have a strong JV team. Keep an eye on Curtis Harris who has
defeated two 2012 regional finalists this year in different tournaments. A look at the table below should
give you an idea of who will be in the running for the team title next year. It lists all the state qualifiers
by grade level and the number of state placers returning. As you can see, Ocean Lakes, Matoaca, and
Westfield are all in a great position to challenge Forge. Annandale and Salem figure to tumble out of the
top ten based on what they have returning. Cox, finished a distant 22nd in the team totals. Granted they
lost a lot with their big three out of the tournament. But only one of those three is coming back. They
are going to need more guys to step up. If you are looking for a team to step up next year, look at Great
Bridge. They return three state qualifiers. Two of which placed in the top six.
Top 10 teams
from 2012
Colonial Forge
Forest Park
Ocean Lakes
Total Place
Winners Returning
- 4x state champions – One of the hot topics of the state tournament this year was Cody Allala
becoming the first non-Eastern Region 4x AAA state champion in Virginia history. Now it may not be too
long before we see another 4x champion. Coming out of the same Central District is Matoaca’s Neal
Richards. From the same program that has produced recent studs in Blake Roulo and Josh Clark, Coach
Michael Moore continues to get the most out of his wrestlers. Obviously lots of variables such as health,
matchups, and a little bit of luck need to fall into place for the dream of the prestigious 4x state
championship dream to come true. However, Matoaca is more than just one or two wrestlers. They are
a team that is strong enough to enter some of the tougher tournaments on the east coast and perform
well. Which in turn benefits wrestlers like Richards by challenging them with top competition. A
formula that Colonial Forge and a few other top teams perfected this year. So perhaps it was an
unspoken passing of a torch from Allala to Richards, or maybe it was a coincidence they both won this
year. One thing is for sure though, the first step is out of the way. We shall see if the talented freshman
is able to take step two next year. He obviously has things to work on. But being state champion
doesn’t equate to perfection. Every champion can always work hard to improve. You can bet Coach
Moore will not allow Richards, or anyone else on his team, to rest on their laurels.
- Repeating state champions/Finalists – Maybe it happens this much every year, and this is just the first
time I am noticing it. But it seems we had a lot of repeat champions and/or finalists this year. Sean
Badua was a state finalist a year ago and won the title this year. Dane Harlow is a three time finalist,
two time champion. Westfield’s Beau Donahue has earned his second title in as many years, with
another year left to go. The Central Region had repeat champions in Cody Allala (4x) and Tanner Tinsley
(2x). David Reck is a two time finalist who won his first tile this year. Sophomore Jake Pinkston of
Robinson has had the rare accomplishment of being an upper-weight 2x finalist during his first two years
of high school. Of course if the unfortunate incident didn’t occur at Cox, we would be talking about an
additional three returning finalists, two of which were champions a year ago. Same goes for the three
talented underclassmen that transferred from Robinson, who all three were finalists a year ago. One of
which who won the title. So it is hard to say if it was just a special crop of wrestlers that made their way
through the state tournament the last couple of years or if the talent level is high at the top, then there
is a slight drop off. I am inclined to lean towards the former, as I would expect to see a change of the
guard between now and next year.
- Potential state champions – Looking ahead to next year, their seem to be a few wrestlers that have
waited patiently for their time in the spotlight. For these wrestlers, I strongly feel their time will come
by next season. Jake Pinkston is a talented and athletic heavyweight who has had two extremely
talented heavyweights that have kept him off the top of the podium. His first season, Pinkston had a
decisive size disadvantage against Taylor Horner of Franklin County. Yet he kept it close until the very
end. This year I am not sure who (outside of maybe Mike Jones of AA’s Lord Botetourt), could have
wrestled with DeQuante Timbers of Freedom. I believe the next two years will belong to Pinkston.
Corbin Ramos has finished 4th and 3rd respectively over the last two seasons. With the 182lb and 195lb
weight class destined for an overhaul on a state level, Ramos has positioned himself nicely to close out
his career with a championship to his credit. Zach Martinez was in a very strong position this year to win
his first title. However, an injury halted his strong early season momentum. He came back and finished
the season an impressive 4th on limited preparation time. Expect him to be a wire to wire champion
next year by starting off as a top ranked wrestler and finishing atop the podium.
- Heavyweights – We have not had much excitement in the heavyweight division over the last couple
of years. Not since Ross Burbank, Ryan Powis, Kenny Smith, and Taylor Horner finished as a top four in
2010, have we had much depth in the heavyweight division. Last year was a solid year from the Eastern
Region, but on a state level it was lacking. This year, we lost two outstanding heavyweights in Keenan
Hughes of Patrick Henry and Reggie Jackson midseason due to non-wrestling reasons. Jackson in my
opinion was the biggest challenger to DeQuante Timbers due this physicality and strength. He plowed
through the competition at the Hopewell Classic. Hughes would have been an excellent candidate to
finish top four in the region. So now who will step up to give this weight class some challengers to
Robinson’s Jake Pinkston. The Eastern Region had a number of talented heavyweights this year. I
expect they will continue to present challenges. The Northern Region will see Bryan Jefferson of
Annandale and Charlie Wheldon of Yorktown battle it out with Pinkston to give their region a strong
state tournament presence. Mount Vernon’s Vika Mathias wrestled DeQuante Timbers as tough as
anyone has this season. He will look to improve on his 5th place Northern Region placement. The
Northwest and Central Regions don’t bring a lot back, but Billy Knabe of Orange County and Kayleb
Frank of Potomac finished 3rd and 5th in the Northwest Region. Meanwhile, Jacob Roark of Hopewell
might be the best the Central Region has to offer as he is the only underclassman to place in the Central
Region Tournament. Overall though, it remains to be seen if some of these young men can step up next
year and offer the fans of heavyweight wrestling (yes there are a few of us out there) a more
competitive tournament.
- Top freshman this year – It is only fitting that on the heels of talking about so many talented
upperclassmen, that we are introduced to a number of talented freshmen this season. Enough can’t be
said about Neal Richards ascent to the top of the wrestling scene in Virginia. However, he was not
alone. Corey Leonard of Thomas dale finished 3rd in the state and number two in my final rankings.
Josue Beltran channeled his inner “Connor Maenz” by finishing 52-11 during his freshman season, won a
Northwest Region title, and finished 4th in the state. The wrestler who he defeated for the region title
was another smooth wrestler in Colonial Forge’s Jeff Stone. He finished 5th in the state. Hanover has
two talented freshmen in JD Gregory and Corbin Allen. Gregory finished 5th in the state after coasting
through the Central Region. Allen never overcame an injury to make an impact this year, but he would
be 113lb would have battled Leonard in the Central Region. Finally, Robinson unveiled another tough
freshman a year after watching Jake Pinkston make a run to the state finals during his freshman year.
Riggs obviously did not reach that feat in his first year for Robinson, but he did place in the top eight,
giving him something to build on over the next three seasons.
- The rise of the central Region – The Central Region has scored an impressive 11 state champions
over the last three seasons. To put it into perspective, the Central Region had 11 state champions from
1992 until 2009. This includes a six year run without an individual state champion. In fact during that
seventeen year run, the Central Region had only two years where they had more than one champion.
2001 and 2009 they had two champions. Meanwhile we are on our third consecutive year with three or
more champions. Cody Allala and Tanner Tinsley were instrumental in keeping that streak going.
However, Richards and Ramos from Matoaca will join Corey Leonard, Kyle Gordon, and JD Gregory as
potential champions next year. Obviously a lot can change during the next year, but the Central Region
has finally reached a level of respect from across the state.
- The East will not be down for long – For those fans who enjoyed a down year for the Eastern Region
so the other regions could have their turn… don’t get used to it quite yet. The Eastern Region will be
back. Yes, there is more parity in the state these days, but the Eastern Region will be back to doing what
it does best next year, winning individual titles. Brandon Jeske figures to return and should be in any
discussion for a state title no matter what weight class he ends up in. Grassfield’s Tyler Misuna and
Great Bridge’s Eric Merriam are a couple of improved wrestlers who turned in state final appearances
during their sophomore seasons. Turner Bishop is an extremely talented wrestler who has had some
major injury disappointments the last two years. If he is able to come back and stay healthy, he will
definitely challenge Martinez or Ramos for a state title. Ocean Lakes Dalton Henderson will return as a
defending state champion while counterpart Eddie Bracey finished 4th this year. Ryland O’Brien of First
Colonial and Eldon Valery of Landstown were a state finalists this year at 170lb and 220lb respectively.
So enjoy it while it last. It may be a while before we see the Eastern Region have another down year.
Returning State Placers by Region
106 113 120 126 132 138 145 152 160 170 182 195 220 285 Total
Northwest 3
** List only includes 2012 AAA Tournament placers. Not previous wrestlers who were either injured, placed
in previous years, or did not wrestle in this postseason.
Dear wrestling fans,
I wanted to thank you for your patience and support of my wrestling coverage. It is an honor
to cover this great sport for so many of you. This was my first time covering wrestling from a
different continent. However, it was made possible through two tremendous websites in and my home-base website A
website that has graciously allowed me to cover high school wrestling for the last seven years.
Down the road, I will eventually find my way back to the states. In the meantime, I will continue
to devote my time to such a great cause for as long as I can make a difference. Thank you for
your interest.
Mr. Observer
[email protected]