Fluco wrestling team hosts 7th annual Billy Wensel Classic

By Duncan Nixon

On Jan. 20, the Fluvanna wrestling squad welcomed 11 visiting teams to its mats at Fluvanna High. A total of 18 teams were expected, but inclement weather caused some schools to cancel. The format for the match was a bit complicated. Three pools were established, two with four teams and one with three. The teams in the pool wrestled against each other. Then the teams with the top results went into competition against each other. The second best teams wrestled against each other and so forth. In the final analysis, the Flucos came in with a very respectable third place finish. The Billy Wensel Classic is named for a popular former wrestler and coach.

The Flucos started in a pool with Woodbery Forest (a private school in Orange County), Broadway High, a school to the northwest of Fluvanna in the Shenandoah Valley and Halifax County (a school from Southside near Danville). Wrestling Coach Craig Conner said that that his pool originally included Fort Defiance, another school from the Shenandoah Valley. When Fort Defiance cancelled, Conner reports that he moved Woodberry into his pool because he knew they were a strong team and wrestling teams only get better by taking on tough opponents. The Flucos beat Woodberry 40-31 in the opening match. This is a closer score than it looks. If a Fluco who won his match with a pin had lost on a pin, the Flucos score would drop to 34 and the Woodberry score would go up to 37 and Woodberry would be the winner.

Team scoring can be a bit hard to keep track of as the match progresses, a pin, or unfortunately, a forfeit, results in six team points.  A win in a match by points results in a team points score of three, four or five points depending on the margin of victory. If a wrestler gains a 15-point advantage the match is ended before time runs out. Forfeiting in a weight class is not uncommon, with 14 distinct weight classes. Coach Conner noted that he only is able to field a wrestler in 11 of the weight classes. Therefore, if the Flucos are wrestling a team that can fill all the weight classes, his forfeit in three classes puts his team down by eighteen points right from the start.

Conner said that wrestling is a tough sport. It establishes fitness and discipline. He encourages students and parents to consider getting started in the sport early. Strength and quickness are important, but experience on the mat is also a key to success.

Conner said that his two strongest wrestlers this season have been seniors, Luke Dillon who wrestles at 157 pounds and David Alexander Oliva, who wrestles at 165 pounds. In this tournament they both were 4-1. Junior josh green wrestling at 144 was also 4-1, while sophomore Cassidy Relyea was an undefeated 5-0. The Flucos have 21 athletes on their roster who are eligible to compete (several eighth graders are on the roster, but are ineligible to compete, as yet.) Of those eligible to compete, six are seniors, so Conner will have a large number of returnees in 2024-2025.

The Flucos’ final dual match of the year is scheduled for Jan. 27 at Orange County. The Region qualifier tournament will be held at Monticello High on Jan. 31. The Region tournament will be held on Feb. 3.

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