Brookville the team to beat in today's Seminole wrestling tourney
Lynchburg News & Advance
Saturday, February 16, 2008

Over the years, and especially recently, Brookville's 38-season winning streak in the Seminole District wrestling tournament has appeared very much in jeopardy. Each time, the Bees have managed to emerge as champions, albeit often by the slightest of margins.

Four seasons ago at Amherst, the Lancers, led by current Brookville coach Don Shuler, actually finished tied with the Bees in the final standings.

"Brookville's really tough," Jefferson Forest wrestling coach Hutch Hutchinson said. "It's like a cat that always lands on its feet. One year, we were leading by 20 points going into the finals and they came back and beat us by seven."

"Our heavyweight had to pin in order to win and he did," Shuler added.

Although today's action takes place at Staunton River, the runner-up last year and an equally strong challenger this season, Hutchinson still considers the Golden Eagles underdogs.

"I don't see Staunton River beating Brookville," he said. "Brookville's just won it so many years in a row. They have a lot of talent."

"Everybody's healthy and ready to wrestle," added sophomore 125-pounder Zeb Stewart, one of three top-seeded Bees with his younger brother Eli another at 112. "We're excited about the tournament. We don't care if it's at their house, or our house. We just want to win it."

Shuler said there is more balance throughout the district this year.

"The Seminole District's really gotten competitive lately and I think Staunton River, as good as they are, it's going to be a competitive tournament all the way through," he said. "Every match is going to count."

Brookville has a decided advantage over the Staunton River in that it won't have to forfeit a single weight class.

"We have everybody where we're supposed to be in their weight and we have a full lineup, so we're happy," Shuler said. "We're ready to go."

By contrast, Staunton River, which only lost at Brookville by 10 points in their dual match, has three vacant weight classes.

"We've got a good team, but three forfeits is going to hurt us," Staunton River first-year coach Ron Long said. "We're a better tournament team than a dual meet team. We've got good quality. It's a great opportunity for us if we can get it done with only 11 kids."

Ryan Jackson, the Bees' defending Group AA state champion heavyweight, is not seeded after missing most of the season rehabilitating from major knee surgery from a football injury.

With only five heavyweights in the field, he doesn't foresee any problems advancing to next Saturday's Region III meet at Stuarts Draft with a top-four finish.

"I know what I have to do," Jackson said. "Of course there's always going to be butterflies there, but I hope I can perform."

He doesn't expect the Bees to be affected by competing before a hostile crowd in Moneta.

"It's going to be challenging," said Jackson, who returned from a torn ACL, MCL and meniscus in three months rather than the expected eight and has won the few matches he has wrestled. "It's going to be different (but) nothing should change about your technique or intensity. The only thing that should change is who likes you and who doesn't.

"It all depends on who decides to show up and wrestle like they can," he added. "If we wrestle our best ? and keep the intensity level up ? we should come out on top."

Shuler expects the unexpected.

"Anything can happen," he said. "It's always close."

His main focus is advancing as many individuals as possible to next week's Region III meet.

"You want to put it all together at the end of the year," Shuler said. "That's the important part and that's where we're at right now. This is a stepping stone to the region and that's a stepping stone to states.

"We always train to reach the highest level and that's where we want to be."