SPOTSYLVANIA – When Micah Holt took the mat for his 220-pound matchup with Riverbend’s Aidan Etcho, he became the first Powhatan County high school student-athlete since March to compete.
He pinned his opponent in 16 seconds, setting the tone for Powhatan wrestling's season-opening tri-meet right away.
“We all worked very hard in the practice room and it’s very, very good to get back on the mat, especially with the wait that we’ve had,” Holt said.
The versatile multisport athlete and senior was also the last on his team to wrestle on Saturday. He pinned his Spotsylvania opponent, this time in 37 seconds, to bookend Powhatan’s successful meet at Spotsylvania High School. The Indians defeated Riverbend 46-24 and, with the help of Holt’s pin, fended off Region 4B opponent Spotsylvania 45-36.
Junior Dylan Coward kicked off his season by routing Riverbend’s Nathan Gipson in a 12-0 major decision in the 113 weight class, and then breaking a third-period tie with his Spotsylvania opponent to narrowly win 7-6 while wrestling up at 120 pounds.
“We just bumped him to (120) because that’s what the team needed, and as always, Dylan rose to the challenge,” said Powhatan head coach Jonathan Tanaka.
Sophomore Britton Proffitt followed up his 7-3 decision over Riverbend's Logan Eastman at 145 with a huge win against Spotsylvania. Bumping up one weight class to 152, Proffitt stayed ahead of state qualifier Hunter Carnes on the scoreboard, then pinned Carnes with 49 seconds left in the third period to push Powhatan into the lead over the hosting school.
Senior Sean Hall, who is projected to wrestle at 126 pounds this season but is currently competing at 132, fended off Riverbend’s Zachary Turner in a hard-fought 5-2 decision, then secured a third-period pin against Spotsylvania.
Senior Hayden Fitzsimmons at 195 soared to a 7-0 lead before pinning Riverbend’s Jacob Pressinger in a cradle in the second period. Fitzsimmons added his second win of the day by forfeit over Spotsylvania.
Sophomore Natalia Sanchez shined in her exhibition match against Riverbend, pinning her opponent in under 40 seconds. She added her first official high school victory by forfeit over Spotsylvania in the 113-pound weight class.
“She’s one that just kind of plugs along and plugs along, just keeps working,” Tanaka said. “We’re super happy for her.”
Senior Gavin Timmons, wrestling up at 138, avoided an early pin attempt from Riverbend’s Zachary Ortega, a multi-year state placer, and rallied from a deficit to parlay a go-ahead two-point move into a pin of Ortega in the third period.
“We knew it was going to be a tough match,” Tanaka said, “and Gavin just wrestled his tail off.”
Both junior Cade Van Buskirk at 145 and senior A.J. Gaskin at 160 bounced back from losses while wrestling up at 152 and 170, respectively, against Riverbend to take down their Spotsylvania opponents. Gaskin pinned his opponent with less than a minute remaining in the third period after building up a 9-3 lead. Van Buskirk won his match by pin in 37 seconds.
Juniors Tanner Palmore at heavyweight and Hans Rehme at 182 earned wins against their Riverbend opponents, with Palmore pinning Jeffrey Cheeseman in less than 45 seconds and Rehme pinning Jake Grasso in 43.
Holt, who totaled 53 seconds of mat time between his two wins on Saturday, gained 15 pounds between last year and this year, and while he said that’s definitely helped him out so far, he noted that “weight doesn’t matter as much; I need to get my technique a little better for the postseason.” He also pointed to the work he’s put in during the offseason.
“We’re just going to keep working,” he said, “and keep cranking out these wins.”
Junior Adam Camp picked up a win by forfeit against Riverbend at 160, and he and Talon Harness both wrestled up a weight class in their second-period losses to Spotsylvania, with Camp wrestling up at 170 and Harness bumping up to 126.
Holt looks forward to using this first meet as motivation for the rest of the year as they work their way towards the postseason. Their wins on Saturday – and even the losses they had – give him confidence going forward.
“I know that we’re going to take what we missed out on here, use our mistakes as motivation for the postseason,” he said.
The biggest thing for the team, Tanaka said, was to give their student-athletes this opportunity to wrestle, regardless of the outcome and regardless of who they’re wrestling, after all of the uncertainty that has surrounded – and continues to surround – the current season because of the still-ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“If there’s one thing we’re taking away from this, we’re just glad that we got to this point, because, for a long time, it didn’t look like we would ever get here,” Tanaka said. “Especially for our seniors, that’s all we want – just give them something. Regardless of what happens from here on out, we gave them something...we’ll just take it day-by-day.”
And if everything works out, Powhatan’s first home meet – which for this season is the team’s Senior Night – will be this Wednesday (Jan. 6) at 6 p.m. The tri meet, also featuring Manchester and Maggie Walker Governor’s School, will celebrate the contributions of Powhatan High School seniors Sean Hall, Gavin Timmons, A.J. Gaskin, Hayden Fitzsimmons, Micah Holt and Linwood Hill, who is projected to wrestle at 170 and 182, and who could be seen and heard encouraging and guiding his teammates throughout Saturday’s competition.