A year-long mission culminated before a standing room-only crowd on center stage as Briar Woods High School junior Michael Hulcher became the first wrestler in school history to win a state championship.
Hulcher won the 126-pound championship at the Virginia AA State Wrestling Championships, defeating Gabe Lumpp of Christiansburg, 11-4, on Feb. 16 at the Salem Civic Center.
As time expired in the match, Hulcher raised his hands in jubilation and acknowledged the crowd before jumping into the arms of Briar Woods coach Ryan Rogers.
“It’s a huge thing for our wrestling program; obviously it’s a huge thing for him and our coaching staff,” Rogers said. “Michael has worked really hard for this and deserves it. Wrestling six days a week, it takes a lot of guts to do that. He has what I wished I had when I was wrestling.”
Hulcher dominated the Region IV champion Lumpp, never trailing in the match. After a scoreless first period, Hulcher scored seven points with two near falls and a reversal. Lumpp scored a takedown and reversal, and the second period ended with Hulcher leading 7-3. That was all Hulcher would need as he outscored Lumpp 4-1 in the final period to record the win.
“I came in thinking I was going to have to work hard to get everything done,” Hulcher said. “I came out and did everything I was trained to do and that’s all it took. Getting the first score for me is important. I like to set the pace with the first score and from then on it doesn’t matter what he does, I know I’m going to win.”
The nationally-acclaimed Christiansburg Blue Demons won the team championship and sent five wrestlers to the finals with four champions.
When asked if he was intimidated about the aura that follows Christiansburg, Hulcher responded, “He [Lumpp] had to step on the mat with me and the mat is my home turf.”
“It doesn’t matter where it is,” Hulcher continued. “I've been on it all day.”
Hulcher’s run to the final included a 6-1 decision over Tabb’s Derek Myer, another 6-1 decision over Carter Lovern of E.C. Glass and a 13-4 major decision over Region I champion Blake Hohman of New Kent.
“Michael told me before the match the semis are some of the toughest matches for him,” Rogers said. “He went out and did a great job in the semis, jumped out big and won it pretty big. He wasn’t nervous at all for the finals.”
Dominion junior Brandon Thein was the only other wrestler from the Dulles District to advance to the finals, falling to Brentsville District’s Jeffrey Walker 6-2.
“The experience was really great, I love the environment and the crowd was very supportive. I love the place,” Thein said. “I’m very proud of myself; last year I only won one match at regionals and went 22-11. This year I worked really hard and ended up 46-4 after states, so I am pretty happy with what I accomplished.”
Walker defeated Thein in last week’s Region II tournament with a 2-0 decision in a match that was very similar to the state final.
“He [Walker] seemed to have the same strategy,” Dominion coach Billy Young said. “He wanted to tie up with Brandon because Brandon is so quick. Brandon got in a was able to take him down.”
The runner-up finish was the best ever for a Dominion wrestler at states. Thein holds virtually every wrestling team record.
“We are awful proud of him,” Young said. “He’s put in a lot of hard work in a hard season to get here. He has done it by himself.”
Christiansburg won its 12th consecutive state title, scoring 158 points in the meet. Brookville followed in second place with 95 points. The top Dulles District team was Loudoun County with a 21st place finish, followed by Potomac Falls in 22nd place and Woodgrove in 24th.
Medals were awarded for the top eight individual places in each of the 14 weight groups. Along with Hulcher and Thein, six other Loudoun AA wrestlers earned top eight finishes.
Also placing were Loudoun County's Hunter Day (third at 160 pounds) and Logan Smith (138, sixth); Potomac Falls' Zach Causey (195, fourth) and Tad Haugen (170, sixth); Woodgrove's Chris Walker (120, third) and Dylan O’Connor (285, seventh); and Park View's Ronald Cruz (285, third).
Four Loudoun wrestlers competed in the Virginia AAA State Wrestling Championships, held Feb. 15-16 in Chesapeake. Freedom senior Brendan Kammerdiener led the local pack with a sixth-place finish at 195 pounds.
Broad Run's Tarkan Martin wrestled to seventh place at 138 pounds and Freedom's Andy Hinrichs placed eighth at 145.
106: Brandon Thein (D) 3-1, second
120: Chris Walker (W) 4-1, third
126: Michael Hulcher (BW) 4-0, first
132: Micklos Zahora (BW) 0-2
138: Logan Smith (LC) 2-3, sixth
145: Omer Nezam (PF) 1-2
145: Luke Rivera (LC) 0-2
152: Jake David (W) 1-2
152: Micah Hotz (PV) 0-2
160: Hunter Day (LC) 4-1, third
170: Mitchell Stevens (LC) 1-2
170: Tad Haugen (PF) 3-3, sixth
180: Alex Reader (LC) 1-2
195: Zach Causey (PF) 4-2, fourth
220: Kyle Schlue (LC) 1-2
285: Ronald Cruz (PV) 4-1, third
285: Dylan O'Connor (W) 3-2, seventh
106: Timmy Brown (BR) 1-2
138: Tarkan Martin (BR) 3-2, seventh
145: Andy Hinrichs (F) 2-3, eighth
195: Brendan Kammerdiener (F) 3-3, sixth
-Photos and video by Moe "Back Points" Murphy