As evident by its performance this past weekend in Fairfax, the Marshall High School wrestling team gave notice that it plans to be a force to be reckoned with in the local scene this season.
At the NOVA Classic on Friday and Saturday, the Statesmen finished seventh out of 32 teams with 114.5 points.
“It wasn’t really out of the blue, I would say,” said Marshall head coach Jason Planakis. “Every single year, we’ve been steadily improving, for this tournament, our points total and our placing has been going up. This year we did well with five placers and had a good turnout.”
The Statesmen were led by senior Andrew Embree, who took first in the 215-pound weight class. En route to victory, Embree pinned three of his opponents. According to Planakis, Embree is the first individual NOVA Classic champion from Marshall since 1998.
Other highlights at the NOVA Classic for Marshall include: Mark Bergenholtz, third place (189 pounds); sophomore Matt Crawford, fifth place (285 pounds); freshman Connor Driscoll, seventh place (103 pounds) and junior Daniel Picado, eighth place (145 pounds).
Planakis believes the squad could have placed even better at the NOVA Classic had things gone just right.
“In fact, I think we could have performed better if we would have had a few wrestlers get breaks that they didn’t,” he said. “I think we could have gotten in the top five if we had done a little better.”
Planakis wasn’t surprised by the teams solid performance last weekend. They had done well in scrimmages and a couple of dual meets leading up to the big early-season event.
“The guys who placed, especially the upperweights, stepped up big and performed well,” said Planakis.
The upper weights look be the strength of the Statesmen, lead by Embree, Bergenholtz, Picado and Crawford.
While it’s the heavy weights leading the way, Embree sees some good depth on the squad.
“We have a good core group of little guys, and then our big guys are solid too,” Embree said. “If we can all work together, we’ll make each other better. I expect that to pay off during the season.”
Bergenholtz, a senior, agrees that there is some talent on this year’s team
“We lost some seniors, but a lot of people we had coming back looked promising.
Coming into the season – and now even more so after the solid showing at the NOVA Classic – the Marshall wrestling team has a clear goal in mind.
“Our goal since the beginning of the season, looking at what we had returning and some of the guys we had come in, our goal has been to win the district title, and that will be a tough task,” said Planakis. “That’s our goal – district title, It won’t be an easy one, but I think that we’ve got a shot at it.”
The Statesmen next participate in the Beast of the East tournament at the University of Delaware Dec. 19-20.