With eight wrestlers, Bees have shot in Group AA meet
Lynchburg News & Advance
Thursday, March 6, 2008

With eight wrestlers traveling to today's Group AA state meet at the Salem Civic
Center, Brookville's wrestling team has as many qualifiers as it has in Don Shuler's
coaching tenure, matching last season's total.

He believes the Bees can improve on last year's sixth-place team showing by advancing
as many as possible to Saturday's semifinals.

"I always believe that we're going to get everyone through," Shuler said. "You give
your best and leave the results up to providence."

Action starts with first-round matches at 10 a.m. today, and semifinals at 9:30 a.m.
Saturday. Quarterfinal and championship bouts are scheduled for 6:30 p.m.,
respectively, both days.

A week after taking the Seminole District tournament title for the 39th consecutive
time, Feb. 16 at Staunton River, Brookville (180) finished a strong second to
Northside (194) in the Feb. 23 Region III meet at Stuarts Draft, sending four
wrestlers to the championship finals and another four to the consolation finals.

"(The Vikings) had a lot of kids in the wrestlebacks and that's what won it for them,"
Shuler said.

This was the first year the Bees didn't have to battle national power Christiansburg in
their region, which makes them more likely to meet its wrestlers early in the state
meet. The six-time defending Group AA state champion Blue Demons are now in Region IV
and had to grapple with perennial state contender Grundy.

"Christiansburg only won by 30 points over Grundy in Region IV and normally it's more
like 100," Shuler said.

The Demons send 11 to state, one more than the Golden Wave and two more than Northside.

Region I champion Poquoson is another team that could be in the tournament title
picture.

Individually, Brookville heavyweight Ryan Jackson, who's 7-0 since returning from ACL,
MCL and meniscus tears in his knee, is among the favorites to repeat as state champion.

"It's always a challenge getting to the state finals," Jackson said. "It's every kid's
dream."

He, however, expects the unexpected.

"It's states," said Jackson, who meets Park View's Edwin Guzman in today's first round.
"Weird things happen at states."

Jackson's toughest challenge could come from Bassett's Andrew Miller, who beat him as a
sophomore before finishing third last year.

Jackson is one of the Bees' three top seeds, along with Nathan Shuler (145) and Ronnie
Guthrie (140). Eli Stewart (second at 125), Kyle Broda (third at 119), Zeb Stewart
(third at 125), Tony Goodman (fourth at 152) and Cory Patterson (fourth at 215) also
will be competing.

Staunton River, which placed fourth in Region III, advanced five wrestlers to state,
including 130 champion Will Epperly. Scott Fike (seeded second at 160), Dustin Kidd
(second at 171), Tony Boughton (second at 189) and Austin Carr (third at 140) are also
in the field.

Jefferson Forest sends two Region III champion seniors, 189-pounder Chris Bowyer and
215-pounder Brandon Beemer, as well as Jacob Wallace (third at 112).

Rustburg heavyweight Keith Williamson and Liberty 135-pounder Brad Hoback are each
seeded fourth.

Minutemen coach Darryl Updike gives Hoback a fighting chance against New Kent's Luke
Todd in the first round.

"At this level, they're all very good and all have the capacity to pin each other," he
said. "He's a senior and he's got some mat savvy to him. He's as strong as anybody out
there. I think he's going to have a good shot."