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The County Chronicle

The County Chronicle

LCHS Varsity Wrestling finishes third at states, three earn gold medals

After a highly successful season, the LCHS Varsity Wrestling team finished strong at the VHSL Class 4 State meet, with five wrestlers earning medals and the team bringing home third overall. 

“Going into the finals match, mentally I felt the best I ever felt the entire state tournament. It was less about winning, and I was focused more on how I needed to wrestle, and just wrestling good,” junior Octavian Ashford said. 

Ashford was one of three wrestlers on the team to earn a gold medal, triumphing in the 175-pound category. Along with Ashford, sophomores Lincoln Kelley and Justin Lowery brought home gold in the 126-pound and 157-pound categories, while freshman Rocco Zagorites placed third in the 150-pound category.

From left to right: Senior Octavian Ashford, sophomore Justin Lowery, and sophomore Lincoln Kelley display the Loudoun County State Champions banner after earning gold in their respective wrestling categories. (@loco_wrestling via Instagram.)

During the season, the wrestlers pushed through tough matches to prepare for their ultimate game. “The two biggest problems were neutral movement and just being more fluid,” Ashford said. 

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While wrestling on the bottom, opponents would take advantage of the wrestlers’ low vantage point by targeting their legs and holding them in a paralyzing position. “That whole season I was working to get better at that which paid off because of my finals match,” Ashford said. 

Sophomore Bryce Schnelzer, who placed second in the 113-pound category, also had his fair share of competition. Down 2-0 in the final period of the state semifinals against the defending state champion, Schnelzer escaped and pulled one of the biggest upsets of the tournament. “That win in the semis was a really big win for him, and it was a really big win for the team, it was part of the reason we finished third,” Kent Nagy, one of the wrestling coaches, said.

Yet it was the very competitiveness of the team that brought the wrestlers closer. “Everyone there is extremely goal-driven. If you find the right people that still push you even more because everyone is working to the best of their ability, that just makes you want to push more,” Ashford said. 

Whether it was playing funky music and hyping each other up before their matches, or training together off-season, the wrestlers found motivation in each other. “To be able to say I was actually able to practice and be able to participate effectively on teams like that… it’s like an ‘I was there kind’ of thing,” Ashford said. 

Yet the team’s competitiveness is far from over. “It’s really exciting… we have three state champions returning, the most of any team in the state… four state finalists, five in the top three,” Nagy said. Nine out of 11 state qualifiers will also be returning to the team next year, as well as junior Cason Kelley, who was a match away from earning a State medal. “We’re going to be a very good team,” Nagy said.

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