Coupled with an atmosphere in which as many as 10 matches take place simultaneously, the competition is a spectacle of spinouts and throwdowns where the focus of attention can change at the drop of a hat.
Out of nine Peninsula or Bay Rivers District high schools in competition, only Hampton and New Kent won in the first round before falling in the quarterfinals.
New Kent was one of the first teams to step on the mat at 9 a.m. The Trojans, coached by Mike Faus, elected to compete in the National High School Division, which features several nationally ranked teams and is the toughest of the three high school divisions.
In a mild surprise, New Kent had a relatively easy time in its first match, running up a 27-point lead on Nazareth (Pa.) en route to a 37-23 win.
But the Trojans met their match in the second round, losing 73-0 to South Plainfield, a team that has been ranked No. 1 in New Jersey according to a poll sponsored by the Star-Ledger newspaper.
After another loss to Franklin County in the first consolation round, New Kent can fare no better than fifth or worse than eighth of the 16 squads. The Trojans face Wheeling Park (W.Va.) Saturday at noon.
Smithfield and Gloucester began competition in the middle-level American Division.
Smithfield, seeded eighth, drew Millbrook. Millbrook's surge of six straight wins in the middle weights helped the AA team from Winchester to an easy 48-21 win. For the Packers, Bryan Graham (120), Nick Kennedy (170) and Alex Feliciano (182) won by falls, while Dylan Scott (106) earned an 11-4 decision.
Gloucester, one of the three Peninsula District entries, linked up with Haddonfield from south New Jersey. The Dukes took a 22-18 edge heading into the 170-pound match, but Haddonfield reeled off four consecutive wins to take a commanding lead on the way to a 40-28 victory.
Robert Leso (160) earned the only pin for Gloucester, but Ethan Newell (152) won by major decision, and Anthony Monahan (106), Isaac Osorio (120), Johnathan Walker (138) and Gil Owens (145) also chalked up wins.
The Black and Blue Division featured the largest contingent of local schools, with six of the 16 teams coming from the Peninsula or Bay Rivers.
From the first grouping of matches, only Hampton made it to the second round, defeating Indian River 42-30. The Crabbers took advantage of two forfeits, but also owned the weight categories between 132 and 182, with Jamon Isom (132), Avery Gilchrist (138) and Santiago Echezarreta (152) winning by fall and James West (160) and Chris Lee (182) taking decisions.
Grafton was defeated 64-18 by Brookville, while Poquoson had a difficult outing against Cape Henry, losing 52-27.
The remaining three teams squared off in the next round of bottom-bracket squads. The two Bay Rivers teams, York and Tabb, lost nail-biters — the Falcons by 37-36 to Currituck County (N.C.) and the Tigers by 39-34 to Region I rival Chancellor. Phoebus wasn't as close in its match, dropping a 46-25 decision to Salem of Virginia Beach.
In the evening's final round of matches, Hampton took on Brookville in the quarterfinals. The team from Lynchburg darted out to a 27-6 lead, but Echezarreta got the Crabbers back in the match with a pin at the 152-pound class, which closed the margin to 27-12. Teammate West scored another fall at 160 and earned Hampton six more points, cutting the lead to nine. But with falls at 170, 195 and 285, along with a major decision at 182, Brookville pulled away to a 55-18 victory.
The Crabbers will face the winner of the Hermitage-York match at 10 a.m. Saturday.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun