Trio of CHS seniors eye 11th straight title
CHRISTIANSBURG – Every high school wrestler faces pressure, particularly going into a big meet.
Keep that in mind when the Group AA Championship convenes at Salem Civic today and Saturday. The state championship qualifies as big, the most important tournament most participants will ever compete in.
Christiansburg will be a heavy favorite to claim its 11th-straight crown. Regardless of how it might look to envious or admiring outsiders, there’s pressure aplenty there for the individuals who make up the Blue Demons squad. The weight of history tests the strongest back.
For three of seniors on the team, the pressure to perform is elevated to another level. Blue Demons Brandon Taylor at 220 pounds, Ryan Wade at 182, and Tyler Miles at 170 will have more on their minds this weekend than the ordinary grappler might have.
“It’s their last chance,” Christiansburg coach Daryl Weber said of the three.
Not only is it the last time for them to compete for Christiansburg, wrestle with their pals, and perform in front of the largest audience of the year – the civic center will be packed to capacity Saturday night – it is more than that. It is the last chance for those three seniors to win an individual state championship.
“You have to have a clear state of mind,” Wade said. “You have to act like it’s just a normal tournament. We have nothing to lose.”
The sense of urgency will be particularly great for Wade, who qualified for state at last week’s Region IV tournament but only as a fourth-place finisher. He’s been right on the doorstep all year, though.
Wade has been an all-wrestling guy the last three years after giving up football to concentrate on his favorite sport. He’s had his share of wrestling success. He’s also had some bad luck. A shoulder injury that required major surgery to repair sidetracked his career a couple of years ago.
“It took me six months to come back from that,” he said.
Now he’s healthy and eager for another shot at state.
Both Taylor and Miles come in as regional champs. Taylor overpowered James Willis of Salem 5-0 for the medal and Miles outlasted Jake Kite of Hidden Valley 8-6 in overtime of a tough match last weekend.
Taylor and Wade have one shared experience over the course of their three-year varsity careers. Each has had to wrestle in a class above the one at their natural weight. Wade’s still doing it. Taylor has finally settled in at his true weight class.
It can be tough going facing an opponent who is naturally larger along with in many cases being more experienced. The situation has its advantages, though.
“Whenever everybody else is cutting weight, we can eat whatever we want,” Wade said.
“We’re trying to gain weight,” Taylor said. “You still have to eat smart. You don’t want to be all flabby. But I can pretty much eat whatever I want.”
Miles has the look of a wrestler right down to a battle-scarred ear. He’s all business in his approach, very serious when the discussion topic turns to anything wrestling.
You can see why. Wrestling’s big in his family. Brother Tim was a two-time state champ at 130 and 135 pounds and still coaches in Christiansburg’s youth program. The brothers talk all the time.
“We’re close; he’s pulling for me,” the younger brother said.
Like Wade, who had a chunk taken out of his high school career by injury, Miles also lost precious mat time during his high school career. He’s been hurt, too, but his most lengthy time away from the mat came from an unspecified infraction of team rules that got him kicked off the team as a sophomore. Letters he wrote to the team and school officials, a term of in-school suspension, and subsequent vows to maintain discipline earned him reinstatement the next season.
Has there been any reason for any of the interest parties to regret decision to bring him back to the program?
“No, sir there hasn’t been,” he said.
He’s certainly been exemplary on the mat. As a freshman, he was seventh in the state at 152. Last year, after coming back in late January from major knee surgery, he went on to place fifth at state.
He’ll take a state No. 1 ranking in the class to the tournament. He’s only lost three matches all year, each to a prominent out-of-state opponent.
Taylor is second-ranked at 220 according to the rankings at Virginia Wrestling.
There’s not a whole lot a coach can tell guys at this point.
“Coach Weber told us, wrestle as you have been,” Taylor said. “There’s no need to change anything now. Wrestle like you have this entire year, the last couple of years. Focus on your style and do everything right. Everything will come out all right.’”
The Roanoke Times | 381-1672
No Comments »
No comments yet.