Arts & Entertainment

GMHS Wrestles with

The George Mason High School varsity wrestling team kicked off their season with a bang last Saturday, faring extremely well against AAA Loudoun County.

Returning for the Mustangs are Seniors Rick Schumann, Ramsey Hanna, and Andy Millar, juniors Steve Parks, Barratt Kennett, and Mark Palmieri, sophomores Jake Schwind, David Ray, and Tim Hillegass, all of whom have extensive varsity experience.

Hanna, Parks, Millar, Kennett, Schwind, and Ray went to the State Tournament last year, and Hanna, Parks, and Ray each came within one victory of winning a medal.

However, it is not these battle tested veterans, but rather the half of the squad that has never wrestled prior to this season that leads coach John Pitas to refer to his team as “a team of extremes.”

Newcomers Sam Dittmar, Josh Myers, Teddy Rueckert, Manny Yusupov, Phil Ambuel, Roger O’Brien, Tyrone Thompson, and Mikey Larcamp are entering their first season on the mat as Mason wrestlers.

At last Saturday’s meet however, it was the veteran’s show. At the 189 weight class, juniors Steve Parks and Barratt Kennett dominated the competition, each posting undefeated records against the opposition.

Schumann, wrestling at the 215 weight division, absolutely trounced his competition from Stone Bridge High School, going 4-0 with four first period pins to round out his impressive day. Schwind completed the Mustang effort with three solid wins at the 145-pound weight division.

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the Mustangs’ toughest opponents figure to be Single A perennial powerhouse Manassas Park, who is the three-time reigning state champion. Strasburg and Madison County, both of whom are in the Bull Run District with the Mustangs, finished in the top 10 in the state last year.

“Of course we hope that our veterans will build on their success last year and return to the State Tournament and win medals,” Coach Pitas said. “But that doesn’t mean that our new team members can’t or won’t find similar success.”

However, the Mustangs do not have wrestlers in all of the weight classes, especially the lighter divisions, so Coach Pitas figures they will not fare as well in dual meets, which pit the Mustangs against one other team. This is where the young guys come in.

“Despite their relative inexperience all our newcomers have the raw ability and talent to make the Varsity squad and perform well,” Pitas spoke of his eight first-year wrestlers. The Mustangs next meet will be this Saturday at the Warren County Quad meet at Warren County High School.