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Nicholson's pins gives Eagles CVAL crown

February 01, 2004|by ANDREW MASON

andrewm@herald-mail.com

MARTINSBURG, W.Va. - Hedgesville 215-pounder Josh Nicholson described the scene well.

"It was crazy, insane. Everyone just kept getting louder and louder and louder," he said. "He was flopping around, and I knew I was getting close."

Nicholson finally nailed it, pinning Fort Hill's Jason Oates in 47 seconds to seal The Herald-Mail third-ranked Eagles' 42-26 come-from-behind win over the Sentinels and a third straight team title at the Cumberland Valley Athletic League Wrestling Championships on Saturday.

"(Oates) is big, he's their team captain and he made me a little bit nervous," Nicholson said. "It was a lot of pressure, but I knew I had to win."

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Hedgesville (17-5) and Fort Hill (16-4) entered their final-round showdown as the day's only unbeatens, at 4-0 each.

Leading 26-9 after eight bouts, the Sentinels appeared to be on the way to avenging last year's runner-up finish for their first CVAL title in 20 years.

But ... "I'm stunned," Fort Hill coach Bernie Nichols said. "I guess we'll have to wait another 20 years."

The Eagles won the final six bouts, including five by fall, from 152 to 275.

"We hadn't seen Fort Hill all year. We didn't know much about them and they didn't know much about us," Hedgesville coach Bill Whittington said. "I knew once we hit 152, we were pretty strong. We just had to slug it out at the end for the championship."

Pins by Troy Foltz (152), Brad Ammons (171) and Derrick Young (189) and a win by decision from Jared Sella (160) put Hedgesville in front 30-26 with the two heavyweight bouts remaining. After Nicholson's pin put the match away, Mike Barrett (275) punctuated the Eagles' run with another first-period pin.

The individual weight-class champions were: Musselman's Dustin Haislip (103) and Kyle Hendrickson (275); Jefferson's Marshall Chapman (112) and Corie Gustines (152); Fort Hill's Zach Huffman (119); Hedgesville's Josh Grimm (125), Sella (160), Ammons (171), Young (189) and Nicholson (215); and Martinsburg's Dane Henry (130), Chris Conner (135), Mike Barbour (140) and Robert Conner (145).

But the titles didn't necessarily go to the best wrestlers, just to the ones who performed the best while meeting the criteria of wrestling at least three bouts in the same weight.

Jefferson senior star Codie Gustines, the CVAL champ and fourth-place state finisher at 140 last year, went 4-0, winning two bouts each at 135 and 140 to up his season record to 27-0. But he went home empty-handed.

"A trophy doesn't really matter. Same thing happened my sophomore year," he said. "It's at the end that counts, at the end when you're at the top of the state podium."

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