Loudoun County High School wrestling coach Joel Caruso told his team last season that their goal was to win the district tournament.
Although the Raiders fell short, Caruso did not lose hope. This season, the fourth-year coach once again told his kids they had a shot at winning districts.
He was right.
The Loudoun County Raiders won their first district wrestling title since 1974 with its championship effort at the Dulles District Wrestling Championships Feb. 4 at Tuscarora High School in Leesburg.
Three district champions and two more finalists contributed to the Raiders’ overall score of 209.5 points, 30 points more than runner-up and regular-season district winner Potomac Falls.
“Winning districts is a measuring tool,” Caruso said. “It shows where we came from and where we are now.”
When Caruso joined the Raiders coaching staff six years ago, the program looked much different. Under Caruso’s lead, the squad began participating in a local offseason mat club and attended the Edinboro Wrestling Camp.
“Six years ago, we were at the bottom of the pack,” Caruso said. “We didn’t even have an offseason program.”
Caruso also attributes his team’s success to a tough out of district schedule this winter, which included a match against state power Christiansburg.
Potomac Falls and Loudoun Valley also boasted three district champions, while Tuscarora, Woodgrove, Park View, Briar Woods and Dominion each had one district champion.
County was defeated in its first championship bout Saturday with Scott Rossell falling 13-6 to Loudoun Valley’s Josh Hawk in the final. Raider junior Logan Smith stepped up in the next title bout, defeating Potomac Falls’ Mike Linza, 12-5, at 132 pounds. AJ Pittas followed with a 3-0 victory over Dominion’s Paolo Garcia in the 138-pound final.
The 145-pound final, which pitted Woodgrove junior Luke Segerdahl against County’s Hunter Day, would prove to be the longest of the evening. The first three periods of the match were scoreless, sending the wrestlers into a minute overtime period. That too remained scoreless as the match then went into two 30-second overtimes, where each wrestler had an opportunity to start on top. In the second overtime, Day earned one point for an escape, ending the match and earning a win for the Raiders.
County’s last championship bout of the tourney once again was against Woodgrove. However, this match ended in favor of the Wolverines, with eighth-seeded Bryce Rohrer pinning County’s Corey Dickey in the second period.
“It’s just mindblowing,” Rohrer said. “I cut 50 pounds to get here. It was worth all of it.”
Potomac Falls boasted the first district champion of the night, when Louis Ives earned a decision over Dominion’s Brandon Thein at 106 pounds. Ives’ five first-period points helped him maintain his lead, despite Thein’s takedowns in both the second and third period.
The Panthers’ Batchka Zulkhuu earned the first pin of the championships, defeating Woodgrove’s Bret Decker in the 152-pound bout. Potomac Falls’ final title came at 170, with Zach Causey earning a 16-5 major decision over Woodgrove’s Henry Machado.
Valley’s Josh Cassada-Maple beat Potomac Fall’s Omar Nezam in the 160-pound bout. Later, Viking David Garvis pinned his opponent in 25 seconds in the 182-pound match.
Saxon Downs earned host Tuscarora its lone district title at 113 pounds. Michael Hulcher of Briar Woods won the 120-pound class in a 18-2 technical fall.
Dominion’s Emile Khattar won the 195-pound weight class 9-6. In the heavyweight match, Park View’s Ronald Cruz earned a decisive 9-2 victory over Woodgrove’s Dylan O’Connor.
Next up is the Region II tournament Feb. 10-11 at Kettle Run High School in Nokesville.
-Click here for complete results.
1. Loudoun County - 209.5
2. Potomac Falls - 172
3. Woodgrove - 164
4. Loudoun Valley - 130
5. Park View - 126
6. Briar Woods - 124.5
7. Dominion - 82.5
8. Tuscarora - 76
9. Heritage - 62
Weight class finals
106: Louis Ives (PF) def. Brandon Thein (D), 6-4
113: Saxon Downs (T) def. Andrew Moreno (H), 8-6
120: Michael Hulcher (BW) def. Devon Potts (WG), 18-2 (tech. fall)
126: Josh Hawk (LV) def. Scott Rossell (LC), 13-6
132: Logan Smith (LC) def. Mike Linza (PF), 12-5
138: AJ Pittas (LC) def. Paolo Garcia (D), 3-0
145: Hunter Day (LC) def. Luke Segerdahl (WG), 1-0 (2 OT)
152: Batchka Zulkhuu (PF) pinned Bret Decker (WG), 5:11
160: Josh Cassada-Maple (LV) def. Omer Nezam, (PF), 9-4
170: Zach Causey (PF) def. Henry Machado (PV), 16-5
182: David Garvis (LV) pinned Michael Williams (D), :25
195: Emile Khattar (D) def. Anar Altangerel (PF), 9-6
220: Bryce Rohrer (WG) pinned Corey Dickey (LC), 2:13
285: Ronald Cruz (PV) def. Dylan O’Connor (WG), 9-3