Warrior Wrestling District Championship

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Andrew Dickerson, in blue, against an unidentified opponent. (Photo by Sheri Dickerson)

New Head Coach Adam Mulcahy (also a varsity football assistant), has given new life to the Warrior Wrestling program, which has struggled for a decade or more. Coach Mulcahy is working hard to instill a new attitude, while emphasizing the team aspect of the sport. Each wrestler goes on the mat alone, but each point scored counts for the team’s total and can be the difference in winning or losing.

Mulcahy and assistants Fred Anderson (wrestled for WAHS in the 90’s) and Jason Taylor want the kids to see that the team collectively can only be as successful as each wrestler is individually. Everyone contributes and every individual match has an impact on the team’s success. With only one senior (Myciah Fitzwater) on this year’s squad, Mulcahy and his staff have an opportunity to impact the program significantly.

This year’s team stood at 14-14 for the regular season going into the district tournament they hosted February 2 at Western Albemarle. They also hosted two home matches this season (which they had not done in two years) and were excited about getting a chance to have districts at their place.

Led by captains Andrew Dickerson (27-1) and Fitzwater (19-7) the Warriors  were poised make a statement and show that they have the talent and determination to be a contender in the future.

Dickerson has made the biggest splash this season for Western with 27 wins and only 1 loss. The loss came against Triple A Orange County late in the season. Dickerson, who was undefeated in the district in the 113-pound weight class, has been a great leader on and off the mat this year for the Warriors, especially for the younger guys. He’s been extremely dedicated, working hard to stay in shape and keep his status as a 113-class wrestler. He has  been working out daily, running and being very disciplined in all aspects of his training.

Fitzwater has wrestled his way to a 19-7 mark, with 5 of his losses coming to top-ranked opponents in the state. Wrestling in the 152 class, Fitzwater is the most physical wrestler on the team. He’s a strong, aggressive and has an attacking style. A four-year wrestler, he executes his moves deliberately, which makes him more effective. He managed to win 19 matches in what has proved to be the toughest and most competitive weight class for the Warriors this year.

Another major contributor has been Caleb Rider (22-4). Rider competes in the 145 class and has been a big surprise this year. With his humble, quiet demeanor you wouldn’t expect him to have the success he’s had on the mat. He’s committed and has an impressive work ethic. He’s only a sophomore and the sky is the limit for Caleb. He qualified for the state tournament in polevaulting last year, and he is also on the indoor track team this winter. Both coaches made concessions to let him compete in two sports in the same season. He practices before and after school to stay competitive in both sports and never complains.

Gabe Rhody-Ramazani  is 18-10, with four of his losses also coming against AAA competition. Only a sophomore, Gabe has a determined will and has worked hard at the details this season to be a better wrestler. He gets to school early for more mat time and studies film to improve his technique. He’s highly disciplined and never intimidated.

Juniors Donte Henry (heavyweight), Bryce Van de Castle (170 class) and sophomore Noah Calvani (160) have also contributed this year. Van de Castle has battled a shoulder injury while wrestling a weight class above where he should be. Calvani secured the 160 class for the Warriors, bumping Van de Castle up a class.

Western hasn’t fielded a complete roster for years and has had to forfeit three to four classes a match this season because they just don’t have the bodies to fill the spots. This is another reason why the 14-14 regular season mark stands out. Forfeiting 18 to 24 points a match puts added pressure on the guys who do compete.

That’s  why Coach Mulcahy has emphasized the team aspect. Forfeiting those points makes scoring every point that you can get even that much more important. The kids are buying into the philosophy, not only giving their all, but encouraging and rooting for their teammates. With only one senior and a number of underclassmen, coaches Mulcahy, Anderson and Taylor have to be excited about the future of Warrior Wrestling. They won all of their matches against CHS, AHS and Monticello this year and won more convincingly as the season went on.

They’re also nipping at the heels of top district opponents Fluvanna and Louisa, closing the gap in late season matches. They lost to Fluvanna 63-12 early in the year and were much more competitive in the second match, losing 45-27. They also closed the gap against Louisa, losing by the narrow margin of 33-27 in their late season duel.

At the District Chmpionship match, Andrew Dickerson (113 weight class) and Gabe Rhody-Ramazani (132 class) both won. Caleb Rider (145 class)  and Donte Henry (heavyweight 285) both finished second at districts, and Ross Myers (106), T. J. Spencer (120), Blaine Kennedy (126) and Noah Calvani (160) all finished fourth. The team as a whole came in fourth, finishing one place better than last year. Dickerson, Rhody-Ramazani, Rider and Henry all advanced to the regional tournament, which will be held this weekend in Leesburg. Congratulations to all the wrestlers and good luck this weekend.