Orange County’s Chance Bowers wore a mask because of an injury last week and then endured a different injury early in the finals when he started bleeding on the back of his head.
He worked through those challeges though and managed to win the Region 5D title at 160 pounds, fighting off Patrick Henry-Roanoke’s Ryan Foutz for an 8-6 decision.
Bowers, who placed third in the region a year ago at 145 pounds, advanced to the finals with a pair of pins and a 9-0 major decision before battling Foutz to the close match in the final.
Bowers was a big reason Orange took third place as a team in the region championships.
The Hornets qualified six wrestlers for the Class 5 state tournament in Fairfax next week including Bowers. Nicky Benner at 145 and Ray Pierce at 285 each took home runner-up finishes while Wyatt Mills at 106 and David Steigler at 138 each took third place. Cale Carr rounded out the Hornets’ state-bound contingent with a fourth place finish at 113 pounds.
Benner fell in the final in a major decision 12-2, but in the process improved on his third place finish a year ago and sets himself up nicely in the state meet with a favorable path. Benner reached the region title match with three straight pins in the first round, quarterfinals and semifinals.
Steigler lost a tough 1-0 match in the semifinals to Mountain View’s Elijah White, who holds a 40-4 record on the year. Steigler then bounced back to earn a spot at the state meet with a second period pin of Albemarle’s Nolan Pitsenberger in the third place match after winning his first consolation match by a tech fall. Steigler is on a mission, dead set on a better result at the state tournament after what he feels like was a missed opportunity last year.
“I felt like I didn’t quite do what I was supposed to do last year,” Steigler said. “I pinned a kid that got third, I pinned him at regionals. This year I’ve got to step it up a little bit.”
He’ll have to battle from the similar seeding as he did last year as he also took third a year ago. But bouncing back from a loss to secure a spot at the state meet is no easy task.
“I just had to think things over, calm down and get my mind focused,” Steigler said. “I could see the guy (White) again, anything could happen. I’ll bounce back and work on some things this week.”
Orange also had a pair of wrestlers earn alternate slots with Alex Burley taking fifth at 195 and Truth Wilson finishing fifth at 220.