GRUNDY, Va. – Grundy High School’s wrestling program will try to make it a 24-karat gold celebration in February.
As for now, it was proven once again the Golden Wave is Southwest Virginia’s gold standard in grappling.
Grundy earned a hard-fought 42-35 win over Rural Retreat on Wednesday in a dual match between the area’s preeminent powerhouses that once again lived up to the hype.
It was Grundy’s fifth straight victory over the Indians as the Wave also prevailed in 2020 (37-34), 2019 (52-24), 2017 (42-22) and 2016 (42-18).
In last season’s meeting between the rivals, Grundy won the final four matches via pinfall to erase a 34-13 deficit.
The drama was present again in the latest showdown as Rural Retreat led 35-30 with two matches to go.
After Chris Stiltner won by forfeit at the 138-pound weight class to put Grundy ahead 36-35, the match hinged on the outcome of the 145-pound clash between Golden Wave junior Jacob Stiltner and Mason Via of the Indians.
Jacob Stiltner didn’t mess around, taking care of business and pinning Via in 2:13 to seal the deal.
With a tattoo of a Viking compass on his shoulder and no-nonsense approach, Stiltner struck an imposing figure and was not going to be denied.
“I just knew I needed to go out there, represent Grundy and get it done,” Stiltner said.
Tanner Hartford (106), Kaleb Horn (113), Ian Scammell (152) and Peyton McComas (220) also won by pinfall for Grundy. Scammell opened the match with an 18-second pin, while Hartford stuck his opponent’s shoulders to the mat in the first period.
A little guy with a big heart, Hartford is an inspiring story for the Golden Wave as he took a six-year hiatus from the sport at one point.
“I just started missing it,” Hartford said. “I tried to come back last season and pulled two or three muscles in my neck and didn’t finish the season. This year I’ve came back and just tried my hardest. If I try my hardest and don’t win, I just train harder.”
It helps that Hartford gets to face Horn, a two-time state champion, each day in practice.
“These boys work the hard the same as I,” Hartford said. “They have really pushed me in the last few weeks and months.”
Grundy coach Travis Fiser has been impressed with Hartford’s spirited return.
“He’s very motivated and focused,” Fiser said. “He’s just a great kid to watch.”
Grundy will take aim at the program’s 24th state team title since 1978 when the VHSL Class 1 state tournament is held on Feb. 20 at the Salem Civic Center and the Golden Wave once again looks the part of a champ.
“We’ve just got some really solid guys,” Jacob Stiltner said.
Rural Retreat won four straight state championships in the VHSL’s smallest classification from 2014-2017 and finished as runner-up to Grundy at the state tournament in 2018, 2019 and 2020.
The Indians (2-1) only filled 12 weight classes for Wednesday’s match, while Grundy (5-0) had the full allotment of 14 wrestlers.
“Forfeits will kill you,” said Rural Retreat coach Rick Boyd. “We’ve been so close [against Grundy] and the last two years it’s come down to the last match. I have to do a better job of drawing numbers [before the match] and get a match to end on where we’re favored to win.”
Eli Blevins (126) ,Wyatt Sage (182) and Eli Fortuner (195) won by pinfall for the Indians, Justin Martin (132) recorded a technical fall and Blake Battaglia (120) and Dorian Delp (160) posted winning decisions.
Heavyweight Colton Terry won via injury default for the Indians after Grundy’s Logan Looney suffered a knee injury in the third period and couldn’t continue. Looney led 6-0 before being hurt.
“This is the only the second time we’ve been on the mat this year,” Boyd said. “We’re still rusty in some spots. Where we’re good we’re pretty good and where we’re not, we’re not right now. We’ve got to get those guys who are struggling to another level before we go to the regional tournament or states will get out of hand.”
Rural Retreat and Riverheads will be gunning for Grundy’s crown.
The Indians and Grundy have established a respectful rivalry over the course of the past few seasons.
“This was good to give us a gauge about how the state tournament might go,” Jacob Stiltner said. “They are tough and good competitors. They push us hard and make us better.”
In a season with shortened schedules and no showcase tournaments due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, Grundy’s wrestling machine is still humming along.
“We’re just trying to keep these guys motivated, trying to get competition in and not looking too far ahead,” Fiser said. “Any team this year is just trying to get the rust off and trying to get in a rhythm and that’s what we’re trying to do as well.”
firstname.lastname@example.org | Twitter:@Hayes_BHCSports | (276) 645-2570
Grundy 42, Rural Retreat 35
106 – Tanner Hartford (G) pinned Parker Stone, 0:35; 113 – Kaleb Horn (G) pinned Brandon Combs, 1:39; 120 – Blake Battagila (RR) dec. Michael Taylor, 6-3; 126 – Eli Blevins (RR) pinned Ethan Blankenship, 1:47; 132 – Justin Martin (RR) tech. fall Justin Owens, 15-0; 138 – Chris Stiltner (G), forfeit; 145 – Jacob Stiltner (Grundy) pinned Mason Via (RR), 2:13; 152 – Ian Scammell (G) pinned Odell Stroupe, 0:18; 160 – Dorian Delp (RR) dec. Ethan Roberts (Grundy), 1-0; 170 – Isaac Coleman (G), forfeit; 182 – Wyatt Sage (RR) pinned Ryan Campbell, 3:46; 195 – Eli Fortuner (RR) pinned Parker Snead, 0:24; 220 – Peyton McComas (G) pinned Jacob Holston, 1:14; 285 – Colton Terry (RR) def. Logan Looney, injury default