Mustang Wrestlers Hit the Road & the Mat with Mixed Results

GEORGE MASON HIGH SCHOOL'S wrestling team poses for a picture after their second place finish in the Liberty or Death Dual Tournament at Armstrong High School in Richmond on Saturday, Jan. 9. (Photo: Courtesy of Brian Harris)
GEORGE MASON HIGH SCHOOL’S wrestling team poses for a picture after their second place finish in the Liberty or Death Duals Tournament at Armstrong High School in Richmond on Saturday, Jan. 9. (Photo: Courtesy of Bryan Harris)

Last week George Mason High School’s wrestling team did some traveling. The team traveled 356 miles in four days for two competitions and claimed seven victories in the process.

On Wednesday, Jan. 6 the team traveled the 71 miles to Strasburg High School for a quad match against conference opponents Strasburg and Madison County High School, as well as two additional matches against schools from West Virginia.

The evening began in rough fashion as the Mustangs dropped their first match against the home team 59 – 15. In the dual, the Mustangs’ points came from the three senior captains Matt Mineo, Hunter Sulc and Jack Dana. Despite the tough start the young group rallied back to defeat their next two opponents in one-sided fashion, beating Moorefield High School 48 – 15 and East Hardy High School 48 – 12.

The evening wrapped up with Mason squaring off against Madison County in a back and forth dual that came down to the last match. After 13 weights had wrapped up the Mustangs had a slight edge, leading Madison by a score of 33 – 30 and stepping out for Mason was senior Patrick Field. Despite his relative inexperience Field handled the pressure with confidence beyond his years.

From the moment the whistle blew he was after his opponent, Rodney Lewis, with a fierceness that surprised even his coaches. “We know that Patrick has a lot of potential, we’ve just been waiting for it to come out and it’s great to see him wrestling with confidence in this kind of situation,” said head coach Bryan Harris of his performance.

It took a mere 30 seconds for Field to put Lewis on the mat and then on his back for the pin. The win not only secured the team victory, it earned Mason its first conference win since Virginia went to the conference format during the 2013-14 Season.

Three days later the Mustangs were back on the road, this time on a 6 a.m. bus headed south to Richmond to compete at the Liberty or Death Duals Tournament hosted by Armstrong High School. Fielding 13 of the 14 weight classes, the team was confident that they could be competitive at the event.

Coach Harris said of the outlook, “having a near full line-up can make a huge difference in these types of events. When you don’t give up 4 or 5 forfeits to start a match you at least give yourself a shot as a team.” The day began with a solid win over fellow 2A East region team Goochland by a score of 65 – 18 in a match that featured six Mason pins.

Match number two went just as favorably for the Mustangs as they took on host Armstrong and only dropped one individual match on the way to a 69 – 6 team victory. The third match of the day turned out to also be the championship match as Mason went up against eventual champs 5A L.C. Bird High School.

It was apparent from the start that this would be a close match-up, with the teams exchanging victories and after the first four matches, with pins from freshmen Sierra Sulc and Jack Felgar the Mustangs had a slight 12-8 lead. Bird took back the lead through five middle weights before Sulc and Dana each earned six team points to bring the Mustangs to within six.

In the end though, the inexperience caught up with the team as they were only able to win one of the final two matches to fall by a score of 42 – 36. Despite the tough loss the team showed its resiliency by coming back to beat Hopewell 45 – 30 and Petersburg 60 – 18 to lock up second place on the day earning the team’s first trophy in a decade. Individually both Sulcs, Dana and Felgar went 5 – 0 to earn gold medals while Matt Mineo, Hunter Plaks, Henry Casillas and Peter Scardino each went 4 – 1 to bring home silver medals.

The team travels to Clarke County High School on Wednesday, Jan. 13 for their third conference match and then will be in Maryland at Archbishop Spalding High School on Friday, Jan. 15 and Saturday, Jan. 16 for the Cavalier Duals.