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Nine area wrestlers punched their tickets to the state tournament, including three region champions and four runners-up, during the Region C and Region IV tournaments this past weekend.
Galax’s Junior Espinoza, Dante Ravenell and Chaz Sizemore all won a region title, all doing so by the narrowest of margins, and Frankie Shalabi placed third at the Region C tournament at Radford High School.
Espinoza took a high-scoring semifinal win over Parry McCluer’s Corbin Woods, 17-11, to reach the finals, then edged Rural Retreat’s T.J. Mitchell 5-4 to win the 112-pound region title.
Dante Ravenell followed with a championship at 135 for the Maroon Tide, also with a one-point win, nipping Floyd County’s Jesse Redford 7-6. Ravenell advanced to the finals with a quick 36-second pinning of Covington’s Cole Zamana.
At 215 pounds, Chaz Sizemore defeated Radford’s Cody Morgan 6-3 to move on to the finals, where he narrowly got past Glenvar’s Cameron Wynn, 2-1.
Shalabi lost his semifinal match against James River’s Owen Deacon but bounced back in the bottom bracket to reach the third-place match, where he pinned Glenvar’s Tim Woods in 2:14.
Grayson County’s Logan Watson was the lone Blue Devil to earn a spot in the state tournament, placing second in the 140-pound class. Watson pinned Josh Custer of Radford in the second period to advance to the finals, where he lost by third-period pin to Parry McCluer’s Nathan Tomlin.
The defending Region C champion, Galax placed ninth as a team with 111 points. Despite sending just five to the individual finals, James River took a relatively easy 41-point win in the team standings. The Knights finished with 212 points while Floyd County and Glenvar tied for second with 171 each.
At the Region IV tournament in Grundy, Carroll County advanced three to the finals but had to settle for a trio of second-place finishes.
Blake Bowman battled to a 4-4 tie with Christiansburg’s Logan Bosley in the 135-pound finals, but Bosley rallied for six points in the final minute to take a 10-4 win. Bowman had reached the finals with a 15-5 semifinal win over Shane Hodges of Richlands after pinning Quan Law of Martinsville in a minute, 39 seconds.
Jordan Lamb pinned Salem’s Brent Cox, edged Cave Spring’s Coty Love 7-5 and took a 5-4 win over Matt Morris of Pulaski County to reach the 140-pound title bout, but couldn’t knock off Grundy’s Justin Street, falling 6-3 in the finals.
Aaron Willard was the Cavs’ last shot at an individual title, but Christiansburg’s Rich Eva took the 160-pound championship with a second-period pin. Willard pinned Pulaski’s Austin Lincoln and scored an 11-2 major decision over Hidden Valley’s Josh Slate to advance to the finals.
Jesse Pedrero finished fourth for the Cavaliers after a 6-1 loss in the 145-pound consolation finals. Joey Rotella (130) and Andrew Naff (152) both placed fifth and Kelly Yelton finished his career with a win to finish seventh.
Christiansburg dominated the field with nine individual champions to finish with 349 team points. The Blue Demons advanced all 14 wrestlers to the state tournament. Grundy was a distant second with 252 points and Hidden Valley another 109 points back in third. A week after placing fifth in the Southwest District tournament, Carroll placed sixth in the region with 106 points, the second-highest finish by an SWD school.