A year ago, the South Lakes High wrestling team won four dual meet victories, a breakthrough season for a program that had struggled so much to win even a couple matches in prior seasons. This winter, second-year head coach Bruce Hall and his Seahawks are looking to continue that positive progression.
A glimpse of South Lakes’ vast improvement came a couple weeks ago when the Seahawks’ junior varsity team defeated cross-town rival Herndon in a dual meet. It marked the first time in 15 years that South Lakes had enough wrestlers to place a full JV team in a competition.
South Lakes’ team roster, varsity and JV combined, consisted of 23 athletes in Hall’s first season at the helm last year. This season, more than 40 students are a part of the program.
"It’s like a regular wrestling room now," Hall, a veteran coach who is determined to build the Seahawks into a Liberty District factor, said. "We’re going to be better this year and move up a few spots [in the district]."
Hall recalls last year’s early season Northern Region Wrestling Classic in which just one Seahawk wrestler — then senior and standout heavyweight Jamal Dorsey — advanced to compete in the event’s second day of action. This year’s team, in contrast, had six students wrestling on the second day of the classic.
<b>THE TEAM’S MOST</b>accomplished returning wrestler, according to Hall, is senior Andrew Tzikas (152-weight class). The coach said Tzikas, despite not earning a place finish at the recent classic, had a good two days of wrestling there.
"He didn’t place, but he wrestled well in a stacked weight class," Hall said.
Tzikas was 28-12 last year and finished third in the district at 152-weight class. He fell just short of earning a place finish at the Northern Region championships.
"He’s the best conditioned athlete in the room and he has been for two years," Hall said. "He’s one of the better mat wrestlers I’ve ever coached. He’s always in a match and very competitive."
Two other Seahawks who will be catalysts on this year’s team are sophomore Jake Slover (160) and junior Alex Stanley (189).
Slover was a seventh-place finisher at the classic a few weeks ago. Last year as a freshman, he competed in the 160 division most of the season against more experienced wrestlers, many of whom were seniors. He worked hard to go 6-16 during that ninth-grade campaign. This winter, Slover is already 5-2.
"We’re really looking for him to move up [in the district] this year," Hall said.
Stanley suffered an injury at the classic, which likely prevented him from placing. Last year, in his first season of wrestling, Stanley went 19-17 and was fourth in the district.
"He’s a good athlete and a real good kid," Hall said. "We’re looking for him to move up to first or second in the district."
Hall is also looking for a strong season from sophomore Ken Robair, who will wrestle at 189 or 215 as the season moves on. He broke his hand early last year and missed the season.
<b>A FRESHMAN</b> who could be an impact wrestler for the Seahawks is Ryan Forrest (125), who had a good showing at the classic.
"He held his own," Hall said of the ninth-grader whom a year ago as an eighth-grader took second place in his weight class at the renowned Virginia-Maryland select youth league Beltway Tournament. "He was in the best weight class [at the classic]. He finished seventh and could have easily finished third or fourth. He’s just going to be real good."
Ryan’s dad, John Forrest, is a part of Hall’s coaching staff this year.
Hall also sees exceptional talent in two other ninth-graders — Austin Rosmarin (103), a newcomer to the sport and Devon Johnson (119), who was a member of the South Lakes freshmen football team this past fall of which Hall was an assistant coach.
"He’s got more natural ability than anybody I’ve possibly seen," Hall said of Johnson. "He’s a beginner, but he’s good."
Other members of this year’s varsity line-up include sophomore Andrew Goldberg (112), sophomore Brandon Harris (130), junior Phillip Kroke (135), junior Justin Magerer (140), who is a transfer student from Magruder High in Maryland, sophomore Harris Hasizi (145), sophomore George Ramirez (160 or 171), sophomore Kevin Canales (171) and Belmin Rivera, who can wrestle at 215 or heavyweight.
Hall’s assistant coaches are coach Forrest and assistant head coach Tim McAteer.
South Lakes will take part in the eight-team Raider Rumble at Stuart High School this Saturday (Dec. 20).