The Salem High wrestlers finished second in the Region 4D wrestling tournament last Saturday at Amherst, qualifying seven for the state tourney. It was the second year in a row the Spartans have been region runner-up.
Host Amherst County was the team winner with 178 points, followed by Salem with 152. Blacksburg was next with 125 and Pulaski County was fourth with 99 in the six team field.
“We had seven qualify for states out of 13 who competed, and five others would have qualified under the same rules as last year,” said Salem coach Lawrence Van Liew. “This year only the top two from the region qualify for states, and last year it was the top four.”
The number of competitors was cut to make the field smaller due to the coronavirus pandemic. The state Class 4 tournament will be held at the Virginia Beach Sports Complex on Saturday, February 20. The complex will host the state Class 6 tournament on Thursday of that week and Class 5 on Friday.
Salem had two champions, Walker Chambers at 113 and Cameron Martindale at 285. Chambers, a senior, won the region with a seven second pin over Gavin Warner of Pulaski to earn his third trip to the state tournament.
Martindale, a junior, is also going to the state tournament for the third time. He pinned Willie Jarvis of Amherst in the heavyweight championship match. Cameron is a two time region champ and placed sixth in the state as a sophomore in the 220 pound category.
Caden Thomas backed up Chambers last year but he earned a trip to the state by taking second in the region at 120. Kyman Kinney is going to the state for the second time after finishing second at 145.
At 160, Riley Rutledge took second. He’s a returning state qualifier and the only senior on the team other than Chambers.
Sam Miles lost a close match in overtime to the eventual region champ, and then wrestled back and won an intense match over Alex Lafon from Blacksburg with a pin in 1:43 to earn a state berth. Lafon, who was the top seed, knocked Miles out of the region tournament last year.
Finally, PJ Bruner rounds out the seven state qualifiers after taking second in the region at 220. Haden Smith, Avery Hall, Caden Wright and James Brooks all finished in the top four but won’t advance under this year’s rules.
“There are only eight wrestlers in each weight class in the state this year,” said Van Liew. “The top six place, so if you win your first match you’re guaranteed to place.”