The first thing Louisa County’s Owen Greslick could think about after he won the 120-pound Class 4 state championship was how his family was going to react.
But it took the Louisa junior seemingly forever to get to them after the match since they couldn’t be in the building for the actual tournament.
After watching Owen win the quarterfinals and semifinals at the hotel, the Greslick family made a bee-line for the parking lot outside the Virginia Beach Sports Center with the computer in tow to track the finals and be nearby for a potential victory. Eventually, Greslick burst out the doors and got to celebrate with them.
“It was crazy,” Greslick said. “I had to go to the podium, I had to take all my pictures, I had to get my shoes off and I had all this tape on them. Then I was finally able to see them, they were so happy and proud.”
Greslick secured the title with a 7-5 victory in the finals, beating Handley’s Cam Gordon to pick up his first state championship in his third trip to the state tournament after winning two region championships. He had to get the job done on a condensed schedule. The VHSL state meet is usually a two-day affair and wrestlers usually have to wait until late afternoon or early evening for a final. Greslick went from the quarterfinals to championship in a little more than three hours.
Greslick jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the title match when he turned Gordon with just 18 seconds left in the period, but the action heated up in a wild third period with Greslick taking a 3-0 lead with an escape four seconds in before Gordon took him down with 90 seconds left, but Greslick snagged another escape only for Gordon to take him down again and even the score at 4-4. Greslick’s aggressiveness made a big difference in that wild third period.
“Going into the match I was thinking this is what I’ve been waiting my whole life for,” Greslick said. “(Coach Rogert Stewart) has been trying to help me stay offensive and create more angles to score on and I did not want to lose that match.”
Gordon cut Greslick loose again to allow Greslick to take a 5-4 lead with the escape. That’s a strategy that a wrestler usually employs when they’re sure they can take down the opposing wrestler and don’t want to risk a late escape leading to a win.
“Rather than try to ride me out he chose neutral, I guess he was confident he could take me down, and that was his mistake,” Greslick said.
It backfired because Greslick then took Gordon down himself with a double leg takedown to push his advantage to 7-4 with 25 seconds left in the match. “He kept trying to hang on my head just to get me off balance and I just had to time that up,” Greslick said.
That was enough to get the job done with Gordon notching a late escape that didn’t impact the final result.
Greslick easily dispatched his first two opponents of the day, rolling 9-0 in his quarterfinal clash with Loudoun County’s Timmy Faber, then pinned Amherst’s Russell Gordon in the semifinals early in the second period while leading 8-1.
Gerslick lost in the state quarterfinals last year so this year’s incredible run served as some redemption for the junior.
“After last year I was kind of discouraged, I took every advantage I could to get better,” Greslick said.
Greslick’s win was a huge step for Greslick himself but also for the Louisa program as the Lions’ first-year head coach Stewart coached his first state champion in year one at the helm.
“My work as a first year deaf head coach for Louisa wrestling has paid off — despite a reduced season due to the pandemic, we all poured our heart out, believing in each other to find a way,” Stewart said. “During these matches, Owen came ready without thinking twice. He wrestled fluently, calm and with poise.”
That poise vaulted him to a state title and a well-earned reward for that championship and an entire season of weight management — a trip to Captain George’s Seafood Buffet.
Rogers notches fourth place finish
Greslick wasn’t the only local representative at the Class 4 state championships, In the 106-pound weight class, Orange County freshman Waylon Rogers bounced back from losing by pin in the quarterfinals to win his way into fourth place, pinning two-straight consolation bracket opponents to work his way into the third place match. He fell 3-0 by decision to Smithfield junior Evan Chrisstofer in the third place match.