It was a brutal beat. A late third period takedown by Poquoson’s Robert Henesey left Western Albemarle’s Nate Riley a win short of a state championship, his first loss of the year coming in frustrating fashion with a championship on the line.
Riley’s state runner-up performance was a big part of an 11th-place finish for Western Albemarle as a team, but he had a strange path to the title match, winning his quarterfinal match with a pin before advancing on a forfeit in the semifinals. That still led to a long day and a lot of waiting on Saturday.
“I actually felt pretty good because I could save energy,” Riley said.
While he fell in the final, it’s pretty clear that it may have deposited a large chip on Riley’s shoulder that could have a big impact on the next chapter of his career.
“I still want to improve, I just want to go to the next level and get better,” Riley said.
Still, he’s been a part of the Western program going to the next level as the Warriors went from just two wrestlers advancing to the state tournament in 2016 (Riley and Russ Hill) to eight wrestlers making the trip to Salem. He was the lone finalist, but at heavyweight Jacob Jackson also grabbed a fifth place finish for the Warriors in a tough Group 3A field.
“It was amazing, our team has grown together so much and I think next year’s team could be even better, but as for my part, it has been a long ride,” Riley said.
Orange County’s Dustin Shifflett fell in the state final at 195 pounds in Group 5A.
Nicholas Benner of Orange County finished in fifth place at 126 pounds in Group 5A.
Mason Morris of Louisa finished in fifth place at 126 pounds in Group 4A.
Louisa County’s Tony Thurston finished fourth in Group 4A’s 285-pound class.
Western Albemarle’s Nate Riley finished second in Group 3A at 182 pounds.
Western Albemarle’s Jacob Jackson takes fifth place in Group 3A at 285 pounds.
William Monroe’s Austin Rath won a Group 3A state title at 285 pounds.
Ian Dillon of Fluvanna finished in fifth place at 160 pounds in Group 3A.
Madison County’s Eric Cashman finished in sixth place in Group 2A’s 220-pound class.
Brian Herrera of Goochland finishes in fourth place at 182 pounds in Group 2A.