Several members of the George Mason wrestling team continued their impressive post-season runs with strong performances this past weekend at the Region B wrestling tournament. Mason’s trio of David Ray (140 lbs.), Barratt Kennett (171 lbs.) and Steve Parks (189 lbs.) led the way with regional championships and were joined by Jake Schwind (third at 152 lbs.) as all four qualified for the Group A state wrestling tournament. Ray and Kennett added Region B championships to go along with their Bull Run District gold medals, and Parks avenged his loss in the District finals by beating Strasburg’s Carlos Ortiz for his Region B crown. Schwind ended the day in third place, losing only to eventual champion AJ Franklin of Stonewall Jackson. Along the way, Schwind pinned all three of his opponents.
To round out Mason’s successful day, Tim Hillegass placed fifth at 145 lbs. and is an alternate to the state tournament. On the strength of the efforts of these five wrestlers, Mason vaulted to a surprising fourth-place finish in the team standings.
Ray’s finals match pitted him against Cody Via of Wilson Memorial, ranked second in the state in Group A. Very quickly Ray signaled to his opponent that he was not to be trifled with, as he took Via down straight to his back only 30 seconds into the match. A two-point near fall made the score 4-0, but after giving up a reversal, the first period ended with Ray leading 4-2. Via chose to start the second period down and, after being penalized for unnecessary roughness, he reversed Ray to close within one point at 5-4. That was it for Via’s scoring for the rest of the match however, as Ray took control. He quickly reversed Via and put him to his back for another two-point near fall and the period ended with Ray up 9-4. Ray chose down to start the third and reversed Via to his back at the 30-second mark and held him there for the rest of the match. Many in the crowd felt Via was pinned, but after being awarded three points for a near fall, the final score was 14-4 and Ray was Region B champion.
At 171 lbs., Kennett faced off against Buffalo Gap’s Joseph Workman and quickly set the tone of the match with a nifty throw by and lift for a two-point takedown. Kennett rode Workman for the remainder of the first period and a 2-0 lead. Workman started the second period down and Kennett decided to let him up in order to take him down again, which he did quickly with another throw by. This time he took Workman straight to his back but before any back points could be awarded, the referee stopped the match due to an injury Workman suffered as he went to the mat. After the injury timeout, Kennett rode Workman hard and just before again going to his back, Workman signaled to the ref that he could not continue due to injury and Kennett won by default.
Parks, who lost the District finals to Carlos Ortiz of Strasburg, entered his match with payback in mind and set about his task with a takedown 30 seconds into the first period. Ortiz managed a reversal, which Parks countered with a reversal of his own, ending the period with Parks up 4-2. Parks chose down to start the second, and reversed Ortiz, who promptly escaped and took down Parks. Parks secured an escape of his own just as the period ended and the score was 7-5 in favor of Parks. Ortiz chose to start the third period on top and after 20 seconds was awarded a point due to an illegal hold by Parks to make the score 7-6. Parks escaped to lead 8-6, but Ortiz managed to secure a takedown with 25 seconds remaining to send the contest into overtime. In the extra period, Parks wasted no time, ending the match in his favor by taking Ortiz down at the 25 second mark for a 10-8 victory and the Region B championship.
Next up for Mason’s wrestlers is the state tournament on March 7-8 in Salem, Va.