National Wrestling Hall of Fame member Michael Moore rode off into the sunset on top. Fresh off back-to-back state champions, Moore retired from coaching. Entering the fray, another coach with a plethora of experience at all levels, is Hal Miles.
“We are very fortunate to get a coach with Coach Miles’ qualifications,” said Matoaca AD Larry Stewart. “He has coached some of the best wrestlers in the world and we are looking forward to continuing the success of our wrestling program under him.”
Though he took a couple of years off, Miles has coached wrestling at the prestigious Fox Catcher which inspired the 2014 film “Fox Catcher” starring Channing Tatum. Miles actually coached Mark Schultz, the character played by Tatum. Locally, he’s been coaching at Virginia State and Petersburg High School most of the past 30 years. When longtime friend and former classmate and teammate Moore retired, it was certainly a logical choice.
Miles is used to coaching great talent, and that is a good thing; Matoaca has simply reloaded coming off back-to-back state championships. Though four-time state champ Neal Richards is at VMI now, the Warriors return state championship at 113 in Brandon Woody and 285 with Anthony Helm.
Woody wrestled at 106 last year and Miles called him an outstanding wrestler. Strong and technical, Miles said that as long as he keeps pushing himself, he’ll be fine in 2015-2016.
Helm, a senior, is a beast of a heavyweight. Both Virginia and Virginia Tech have expressed interest in the two-time state champion.
“He has size, power and quickness for a big man,” said Miles. “Any college will be lucky to pick up a recruit like him at heavyweight.”
Supporting Woody and Helm will be an array of talent. Seniors Bryson Woody (152) and Alvonte Jones (182) are expected to have strong seasons while Marcus Taborn (132) and Sam Braswell (106) are returning underclassmen who qualified for states and regionals respectively. Woody is a taller wrestler at 5-10 which helps him with leverage. Alvonte Jones is strong, explosive and at times, hard to control. Taborn is a technically sound wrestler while Braswell wrestled part-time last year and will be solid as a junior this season.
Perhaps most intriguing of all the athletes in Miles arsenal is a freshman. Noah Roulo will wrestle at 126 pounds and is the younger brother of Matoaca great Blake Roulo (Senior at George Mason, now) who’s second on the school’s all-time win list. Roulo excels at wrestling on his feet and with takedowns and is expected to make a run at states in his first season.
Despite the changing of the guard and some roster turnover, Miles’ crew has a bright outlook for 2015.
“We’re developing solid mat plans for these kids,” Miles said. “This is a really talented bunch. If we peak at the right time this year, we have a pretty good chance to do it again.”
Matoaca will look to win its third straight state championship in 2015-2016 and if they do, they’ll become the second team in recent history to accomplish the feat along with Lloyd C. Bird football.