By Jerry Reid
Western Albemarle High School’s Adam Mulcahy believes there’s definitely an “I” in the word team, and his coaching successes with the wrestling team back him up.
To him, and hopefully his wrestlers, the “I” is individual performance that supports the laudable team-oriented victory. These young men go after every smidgen of a point in their matches like junkyard dogs, chasing what the team must have to win tournaments and titles.
Proving his point for all to see, the team closed out regular season competition last Thursday and Saturday, winning both days but doing it in a big way at the weekend’s Riverheads Big Red Invitational Tournament. They finished first in a field of 10, adding this
big win to the second-ever Jefferson District Tournament Championship, and an all-time high finish of second place at the Wildcat Invitational at Warren County High School.
Mulcahy ecstatically related that “We had 12 wrestlers make the medal matches, and [this was] another team win with all 13 wrestlers scoring points and winning at least one match.” He emphasized the word “team,” and why not? His athletes are buying into his philosophy with glee.
This same match saw another Warrior make the century mark in career wins. Junior Nate Riley did it with a pin, joining senior co-captain Russ Hill (104 wins). Hill, Riley and Asa Shin also won championships. Junior Anthony Ramazani, the other co-captain, and Hill spoke highly of the work ethic and mindset that has seen their team soar to a 19-5 record. This unit produced the third straight winning record for Mulcahy.
Western placed in the top four in 12 of 14 weight divisions at the district tournament and that proved to be the difference.
“We won districts and that was huge for us; something we hadn’t done in a long time (since 1998). Coach was really proud of us, and Coach Anderson was on the last team to do this. He gave us a hard time about it; then we won, so we can now give him a hard time,” Ramazani said. “Everybody has an equal role, winning districts was pretty much a team effort. We won by a half-point, I believe,” It probably seemed that close, but in reality WAHS won 183.5 to Louisa County’s 180. Ramazani added, “Every single person matters— every single win, every single point. My role is the same as everyone else. I’m a captain and I lead them to believe that.”
Hill added to the lore of teamwork with this group, and he was no doubt inspirational for many. When asked about his reasons for wrestling, he whimsically recalled, “I had a bigger sister and she was beating me up all the time.” Sibling self-defense is something many will recall with a smile. Giving a more solid reason for joining this contact sport, he said, “I love the fact that I can just bounce off the walls, off the mats, go hard without getting hurt, so that kept me in it.” His feeling for the team and bonds formed go deep. “It feels really great because everyone thinks it’s more of an individual thing, and it is because you’re out there all by yourself, but you’re all trying to contribute to the greater good. Even the younger kids look for the points if they’re down. They all want to be part of a team.”
The Warrior’s efforts at the district meet saw Ramazani, Will Davis and Austin Beighley nail down seconds, with critical contributions from Cy Ward, Keegan Riley and Jake Jackson piling the points on. There are 12 wrestlers with 50 or more points as the regular season ended, and eight with 100 or more. Heavyweight sophomore Jake Jackson is one of those, as is junior Jabari Gomez.
A Riverheads High and Bridgewater College graduate, Mulcahy and his family live near Staunton. He didn’t start out to be a teacher, but he has certainly become one. He took over the Environmental Sciences Academy at WAHS. He had coached football and track for seven years, but has also found his way to wrestling.
“I’m just the wrestling coach now, and we have definitely seen the impact of that decision—leading to having a full year of wrestling available for our kids.” Mulcahy said they are competitive, great kids, and are hard-working. Just the kind of clay a coach loves to mold.
“Getting back into it after being away from the sport for a decade, it kind of really rekindled the fires in me and brought a passion back out. It’s really been great to get back on the mat to help these kids with their physical and mental fortitude, and how to have great character,” he said.
Now the postseason begins, and these wrestlers know how to count on each other as a team of individuals headed for the Conference 29 Tournament at Turner Ashby this Saturday, followed by regionals February 12 and 13, and, hopefully, states February 19 and 20 at the Salem Civic Center.