A pair of Loudoun wrestlers broke through in a big way Feb. 18 at the Group AAA and AA state tournaments.
Seniors DaQuante Timbers of Freedom High School and Batchka Zulkhuu of Potomac Falls became the first local wrestlers to win state championships since Potomac Falls grad Justin Wheaton struck gold in 2005.
Timbers pinned three of his four opponents in the 285-pound weight class at the Virginia AAA tournament en route to becoming Freedom’s first individual state wrestling champion.
In the first two rounds Feb. 17 at Robinson Secondary School in Fairfax, Timbers needed a little more than two minutes to advance. Timbers pinned his first opponent in 48 seconds and his second opponent in 1:19. His only full match was his semifinal bout, where he defeated Marshall’s Matt Crawford 15-6.
In the final. Timbers pinned sophomore and home-crowd favorite Jake Pinkston of Robinson in 3:08.
“When he [Pinkston] was on his back, and I saw the ref sucking in the air to blow the whistle and raising his arm to slap the mat, I was shocked and amazed,” Timbers said. “I had so much emotion.”
In the AA 152-pound final Feb. 18 at the Salem Civic Center, Zulkhuu earned a decisive victory. Zulkhuu defeated Andrew Saunders of Northside in a 21-6 technical fall at 4:40. Earlier Saturday, Zulkhuu scored a 10-5 decision against the top ranked wrestler in his weight class, Nolan Schultz of New Kent.
“After Batchka won his semifinal match, the toughest he had, I thought he had a really good shot of winning the title,” Panther coach Mike Grafton said.
Both Timbers and Zulkhuu did not begin wrestling until they were freshmen, something unique among state champions.
“It’s a testament to how hard they have worked,” Grafton said.
Each wrestlers spent much of the offseason participating in mat clubs, tournaments and camps. Zulkhuu, a Mongolian native, was trained by a former member of the Mongolian national team. He also attended the J. Robinson Wrestling Camp in 2010, considered by many to be one of the toughest camps in the country.
Timbers competed in freestyle and Greco-Roman wrestling with Team Virginia at the 2011 Fargo National Championships in North Dakota. Timbers placed eighth in freestyle.
Several other Loudoun wrestlers earned accolades during championship weekend.
Freedom’s Tyler Young became the school’s first-ever wrestler to compete in a state final, earning a runner-up finish at 182 pounds.
Young faced a difficult battle on the road to the championship. In the semifinals, he squared off with previously undefeated Stacey Kennedy of Oscar Smith. After three scoreless overtime periods, Young earned an escape with six seconds remaining to advance to the state final.
“Tyler wasn’t even predicted to place,” Freedom coach Kent Nagy said. “But our heavyweights are the hardest- working kids in the wrestling room.”
Young and Timbers’ performances helped lead Freedom to 11th place overall.
Stone Bridge’s Jonathan Faul won four of his five bouts in the AAA tourney, placing third in the state at 152 pounds.
Angel Rios (113) and Tarkan Martin (132) of Broad Run each won a match at states.
In Group AA, five other Loudoun wrestlers placed in addition to Zulkhuu.
Junior Josh Cassada-Maple of Loudoun Valley went 4-2 and took fifth place in the 160-pound weight class. Woodgrove junior Joe Cavallaro won three bouts to place seventh at 160 pounds.
David Garvis earned a fourth-place finish at 182 pounds, helping Loudoun Valley finish in 15th place overall. Garvis won three bouts overall. Josh Hawk (126) also earned points for the Vikings with his one state victory.
Both Loudoun County wrestlers that qualified for states placed. Junior Logan Smith (132) placed fifth in his weight class and AJ Pittas (138) finished sixth. The duo combined to win six bouts overall.
The Raider duo combined to win six bouts, capping a strong postseason for Loudoun County. The Raiders won their first district championship in more than 30 years this winter.
Briar Woods wrestlers earned two wins total. Senior Michael Hulcher won one match before losing to the eventual 120-pound champion J.R. Wert. Teammate Reggie Miller (113) and Dominion’s Emile Khattar also earned a win each.
Although the high school season is over, several wrestlers will stay active in the sport. Timbers plans on returning to Fargo, and wants to excel at the national level as well.
“I don’t want to be just a state champion,” Timbers said. “I want to be a national champion.”
113: Reggie Miller (BW) 1-2
120: Michael Hulcher (BW) 1-2
126: Josh Hawk (LV) 1-2
132: Logan Smith (LC) 3-2, 5th
138: AJ Pittas (LC) 3-3, 6th
152: Batchka Zulkhuu (PF) 4-0, 1st
160: Josh Cassada-Maple (LV) 4-2, 5th
160: Joe Cavallaro (W) 3-2, 7th
160: Micah Holtz (PV) 0-2
182: David Garvis (LV) 3-2, 4th
182: Michael Williams (D), 0-2
182: Dionte Fitts (T) 0-2
195: Emile Khattar (D) 1-2
285: Ronald Cruz (PV) 0-2
120: Angel Rios (BR) 1-2
132: Tarkan Martin (BR) 1-2
152: Jonathan Faul (SB) 4-1, 3rd
182: Tyler Young (F) 3-1, 2nd
285: DaQuante Timbers (F) 4-0, 1st
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