In his second season as head coach, Daniel Clingenpeel is looking to push his Matoaca Warriors back to the greatness that they won three straight state championships from 2014-2016.
“Matoaca Wrestling is returning a team with a good mix of experience,” said Clingenpeel. “We are returning seven wrestlers who were either freshmen or first-year wrestlers who gained a ton of experience last season.”
Among those seven wrestlers were three regional placers, along with three upperclassmen who placed in region 5B last year.
Returning 5B region champion Nick Garcia is hungry to improve on a 3rd-place state tournament finish last year, adding his name to a long line of Matoaca champions. Not only is he one of the best wrestlers in the state, he’s the leader of the team.
Two other seniors, Elijah Garcia and Jaydon Burgos, are both captains and physically strong. Garcia placed second in region 5B and fifth in the state last year. Burgos finished sixth in region 5B, but Clingenpeel said that he’s always dangerous to score bonus points for the team.
Two sophomores are of great promise for the Warriors as well- Kii Johnson and Keyshawn Burgos. Each placed fifth in region 5B in his weight classes as freshman, and both have good prospects to improve and make deeper runs into the postseason.
With these five region placers who could all challenge for state berths, Matoaca has a strong base to build from.
In his first year as head coach, Marvin McKinney will look to continue the growth that L.C. Bird’s wrestling program has experienced of late.
“I use the sport of wrestling to order to grow and develop great men and women who become productive members of society,” McKinney said. “I try to instill into my wrestles to focus on the process, not the outcome.”
The team will be young this year, and feature 19 student-athletes, including three girls. Eleven of the team’s members are either freshmen or sophomores. McKinney said that the strength of the team this year is its work ethic, as the wrestlers have all been united in working towards the common goal of creating a winning program.
The team will be led by three seniors: Alex Anderson (120), Shaun Allen (152), Savion Parham (160). These athletes will be a part of a core of five wrestlers that should lead the way for the team. Two underclassmen, Cayla Rivera-Mayen (106) and Spencer Dabney (285), are juniors.
“All of these Skyhawk wrestlers model the program philosophy of working hard on the mat and in the classroom,” said McKinney. “My assistant coach, Christopher Domke, and I are excited for this season.”
Thomas Dale wrestling, in the second year under Darrin Zoller will feature a young and growing roster, and one wrestler who could challenge for a state championship.
That state title contender is in the 120-pound class, John Miayamoto. As a senior, he’ll look to improve upon a 6A region runner-up placement and two wins in the 6A state tournament. Zoller said that with his offseason, he’s poised to at least repeat his success if not go further.
He’s flanked by two other captains: junior Jon Luke Spitzer and senior A.J. Tirpak. Both missed regional competition last year because of injuries – an elbow for Spitzer and a knee for Tirpak – but both could make solid runs into their brackets if healthy.
Out of 27 wrestlers, just 11 are returners. Zoller says that the team’s strength lies in the wrestlers work ethic and desire to get better every day.
“The team is unified and supportive,” Zoller said. “They just need more experience.”
Coach Jim Reilly will lead a young roster into battle for Meadowbrook in the 2019-20 season. A coaching veteran, Reilly has 25 years of experience including 12 as a head coach.
“We are a young team learning how to wrestle,” said Reilly. “There will be some growing pains, especially in a tough region like 5B.”
Despite a younger and smaller roster, there are standouts, and the region could be in for a surprise if they run into sophomore Brandon Broadie (106), junior Trevor Falconer (132), junior Mynor Garcia (138), and sophomore DaJeon Archie (145).
Broadie is quick, and Reilly says that him being a natural 106-pounder means he’ll have an easier time, not having to cut weight. Falconer is a hard worker and Reilly called him quite agile. Garcia who moved to the Meadowbrook area from New York, has looked good in practice. Archie is another hard worker who is very strong in his weight class.
“Most of the team is inexperienced,” said Reilly. “We have no seniors to lead the team and guide the young wrestlers this year.”