David Ray is a man on a mission, and it is one of the toughest in high school sports. As he begins the 2008-2009 wrestling season Ray, a senior at George Mason High School, has set his sights on the state title that so far has eluded him.
Last year, Ray had to settle for a 3rd place finish at the state championships and it has been nagging at him ever since. Some observers point to the fact that he missed his entire sophomore season and most of last year’s preseason due to a broken back as a reason for falling short, but as far as he is concerned all that is ancient history. He is now only looking forward. This year, he is healthy and after a full off season of training and hard work he is ready to make a run at the championship in the 152 lb weight class. And he figures to not be the only Mason wrestler with a medal when it is all over. Jake Schwind, who placed 7th in the state, has made it his goal to return to Mason medal in hand come next March and their teammate and fellow senior Tim Hillegass (145) is determined to show he can make it to Salem and return with a medal also. These three seniors are leading a young but talented Mason squad that features a mixture of familiar and new faces. Back with the team after a season off are Teddy Rueckert (160) and Sam Dittmar (189). Jackson Thomas (119) and Manuel Veiga-Diaz (215) who both joined the team in January last year have also secured spots in the starting lineup. New to the Varsity this year are Danny Seidita (112), Benson Ting (125), Alborz Alaeddini (130), Natan Lailari (140) and David Kutchma (285)
Another cause for excitement for the Mustangs this year is who fills out the rest of the roster. “We are very excited about the young guys we have attracted to the team,” replied new Head Coach Bryan Harris, a science teacher at Mason. We have Freshman Jake King and six 8th grade wrestlers, Nate Cooper, Jacob Facas, John Glover, Liam O’Connell, Ari Ulzii, and Tyler Waters waiting in the wings. These guys are working hard and I hope they will be the mainstays of the team for years to come”
The Mustangs have only 2 home events this year, Jan. 10 and 31, but will be competing at nearby Fairfax, Stuart and Wakefield so getting to a match should be easier this year than in the past.