For Albemarle wrestling’s Donovan Berry, transforming from a state alternate who took fifth at the Region 5D meet a year ago wasn’t just about the training work he does in the wrestling room. It was about everything else during the year. It was about playing football (he’s an All-Region 5D defensive lineman), running track and eating right.
Even if that means a lot more salads.
“It’s a little bit of discipline but I also found some salads that I like,” Berry said. “Like a Ceasar with a nice parmesan.”
Berry will likely enjoy those salads a little more after it helped pay off in a Region 5D title at 220 pounds Saturday in double overtime at Orange County High, giving the senior a huge boost and a favorable seed in the Class 5 state tournament.
Albemarle, with a sixth place finish as a team, vaulted five other wrestlers into the state tournament, with Rafael Galvez winning a region title at 113 pounds. Yared Velazquez placed fourth at 126 pounds, Nolan Pittsenberger took fourth at 138 pounds, Zack Davis took fourth at 160 pounds and Thomas Vales took fourth at 170 pounds. Connor Smiley is an alternate for the state meet after taking fifth at 182,
That region title victory also happened to be Berry’s 100th career win.
“It was extreme excitement,” Berry said. “I looked up to my parents and they had the sign (that said 100 wins) and it just hit me right then, I’m a region champion.”
Berry has also made the necessary sacrifices in the mat room as he pointed to a more demanding approach at Albemarle this year that helped him find a way to beat Mountain View’s Stone Summers 4-3 in double overtime.
“They’re always pushing us, making us better,” Berry said. “I was tired but definitely not as tired as past years when I’ve gone to overtime.”
Now he’ll get a shot at a Class 5 state championship next week in Fairfax.
“I definitely want to win and win this for myself,” Berry said. “To say I can do this, I can compete with these guys.”
New addition Rafael Galvez showed up at Albemarle about a month ago after his family moved from Illinois, bringing his wrestling shoes to school on his first day as a student. Saturday he punched a ticket to the state tournament with a semifinal win and then won a region title at 113 pounds with a pin against North Stafford’s Damon Bailey.
“I had to move schools but that wasn’t going to stop me from wrestling,” Galvez said. “They told me 113 was open and I’d been cutting all year to wrestle 113 so I was like, that’s my spot.”
Winning a region title while adjusting to life in a new state is challenge enough, but winning it in dominant fashion with three pins and a 10-4 decision in the semifinals is even more impressive.
“My coach at my other school said always train harder than you did last time,” Galvez said. “When you’re wrestling you think about all that time and sweat and I wasn’t going to let that go away.”
Albemarle will compete at the Class 5 state meet at Robinson High starting February 15.