Clark Wins State Championship,
Cohe, Pitas Take Fifth Places at Salem Finals
By Mike Denny (March 7, 2002)
When youíre a wrestler, the season consists of incredibly demanding physical combat, grueling practices, and many long hours traveling to matches, but most important to wrestlers it involves fasting to make weight. Now fasting doesnít mean starvation; the cycle of maintaining weight entails going without all unnecessary fuel. When the season ended this weekend with the state tournament, food was on the minds of all the participants when they raided the Kroger Food Mart in Salem, VA. Leaving with a cart full of soda, chips, cookies, and other great junk food, seniors Joey Cohe, John-Henry Pitas, and Josh Singer with junior State Champion Dominic Clark left to gorge themselves into a stupor from an overload of sugar and poly saturated fat.
States, or as itís called by wrestlers "the big show," is the main event. It is the culmination of years of hard work, failures and successes, all of which weigh on the mind of participants. Going into the state tournament the Mustangs hoped to contend for at most 4 medals with at least two finalists, and definitely one champion. The Mason wrestlers faced another 15 wrestlers in their respective weight classes, all eyeing the crown, and of course only one would be the champion, no matter who seemed destined to win.
In the end, Mason had a very successful tournament with 3 medallists; two fifth places finishes with Joey Cohe and John-Henry Pitas, and one champion, junior Dominic Clark. The team finished tenth in the state.
The surprise of the tournament was Clark who won the state at 160 lbs with a 7-5 overtime decision in the finals against Ben Hurst of Mathews. Clark started the tournament off strong with a pin over Squires (Parry McCluer) in 3:02. In the quarter and semifinals Clark continued with a 9-2 decision over his Chincoteage opponent, and a 6-0 decision over Drew Dehart from Radford. Clark came off of an injury early in his finals match to win in overtime, 7-5.
Joey Cohe tech fall Kerns (Mathews) 16-0 in his first round bout, and then lost a close 5-4 match in the closing seconds to Jason Dunbar of Radford. He climbed his way back into the medals stand despite an injured knee, his second knee injury, with a 14-0 win over AJ Lizarraga from Coeburn in the 5-6th match.
John Henry Pitas beat Ronald Pomposinni from Mathews 16-1 by tech fall in the prelims, and then lost to M. Justice from J.J. Kelly 18-8 in the quarter finals, pinned WarBurton from Powell Valley in 4:45 in the consolation prelims, beat Adam Camper from James river 16-2 in the consolation quarters, and lost to Region B champ Ben Truchelle 3-0 in the consolation semi-finals. Pitas went on to beat Brad Jones from Rural Retreat 5-3 to win a 5th place medal despite having a painful elbow injury.
Josh Singer fought hard in his losing effort, coming back after a pin in the first round by his James River opponent, only to lose a close match in the second round against the eventual 4th place medalist.
While there may have been some finishes that fell short of expectations, overall Mason finished better than anyone could have foreseen a few years ago when having one state qualifier was considered a major accomplishment. This yearís 10th place finish is a signal of what is to come in the new Mason wrestling program. With one champion returning next year, the program continues to look up.
Breaking Their Fast