Bishop Ireton wins city wrestling tournament

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Bishop Ireton wins city wrestling tournament
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By Chris Teale (Photo/Chris Teale)

Each day at Bishop Ireton, wrestling head coach Kwinten Brown walks through the cafeteria on lunch duty, but also on a scouting mission to try and find boys who look like they may be suited to the sport.

“What happens is really, it’s almost like fishing,” he said. “I throw a whole bunch of lines out there and hopefully a couple of kids bite. I reel them in and they fall in love.”

It is a strategy that has served the Cardinals well, as they triumphed in an all-Alexandria wrestling tournament on January 7 against Episcopal, St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes and hosts T.C. Williams. Ireton won all three of its matches convincingly to emerge victorious in the quad meet, having been forced to miss the event last year due to inclement weather.

The tournament format saw each team play each other once; a match between two schools is made up of 14 bouts in weight categories between 106 and 215 pounds. Within a bout, wrestlers earned individual points for a takedown — forcing their opponent to the mat — and for an escape, where they get out from being in a down position on the mat. Bouts lasted for three two-minute periods, with the wrestler who had garnered the most individual points declared the winner and earning three team points.

In addition, if a wrestler managed to pin his opponent’s shoulders to the mat for at least two seconds, he took an automatic victory and won six points for his team. A team unable to field a wrestler for a bout in a certain weight class automatically forfeits and its opponents are handed the win in that fight by default.

Ireton first took care of hosts T.C. 64-9, and then pounded the previously-undefeated Episcopal 55-15. The Cardinals secured the tournament victory with a convincing 72-9 win over the Saints. Elsewhere, the Titans lost to Episcopal but defeated SSSAS to finish 1-2, while the Maroon finished 2-1 after wins over Saints and T.C. The Saints went 0-3.

Wrestlers had to compete in three bouts in relatively quick succession, with only 20 to 30 minutes off the mat before returning. Brown said that Ireton’s training regimen of wrestling for 15 minutes, taking a water break for two minutes and then wrestling again for another 15 minutes served them well, while Maroon head coach Steve Castle said the format was ideal preparation for the postseason.

“The reality is, in order to place in the state [rankings], that’s what you have to do,” Castle said. “You have to wrestle and then you lose a match and then you come back and wrestle again. Obviously if you want to win the state [title] you just keep winning, but that’s a few select kids, so for the rest of the kids I want them to understand that you’ve got to wrestle one time, wrestle again now and then wrestle again an hour later, because that’s what the end of the state tournament is like.”

The victory over highly-rated Episcopal was crucial for Ireton, which never looked back after building up an early 21-0 lead on team points. Brown described the victory over the then-unbeaten Maroon as a “big deal.”

“They’ve got a lot of really tough wrestlers in their lineup, and I know coming into today they were one of the big ones I was worried about,” he said. “I know that beating them, it showed a lot of heart.”

Brown added that the philosophy to “be a shark” that he preaches to his wrestlers served them well, not only in that match, but also in the other two.

“The sharks, they dominate the ocean,” Brown said. “Sharks go out there and don’t go after wounded animals; sharks go after the strong animals. I think that being a shark to me means going out there and being the most dominant wrestler out there. I don’t care who the kid is, whether they’re good, whether they’re bad, whether they’re OK. You be the most dominant wrestler on the mat.”

In spite of the positives, coaches at the tournament agreed there is plenty of aspects upon which their wrestlers must improve, especially with the state tournament and the National Prep Wrestling Championships coming at the end of February in addition to numerous other meets and tournaments.

“A lesson we’ll take from this is that we need to continue to work on our conditioning,” Castle said. “A day like this, where you get to wrestle three times, I think sometimes exposes places in our technique where we need to really zero in on. My continual message to the guys is that we don’t make this about winning and losing as much as we make it about getting better on our technique and wrestling as well as we can.”

While Brown noted his charges still have plenty of work to do, he was delighted to see them lift the city championship.

“Winning it today is great,” he said. “Our parents, our fans, everybody came out to show a lot of support, which is awesome. In a sport like wrestling, you don’t get many fans out, but a lot of our parents came, they supported us, they cheered us on and our guys really excelled.”

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