It was a simple move, but it was nearly perfectly executed by Albemarle’s Brandon Waller. And why wouldn’t it be? Waller’s had time to practice.
“I’ve been working that move since I was eight,” Waller said.
Waller saw St. Christopher’s Andy Pitts, a private school state-ranked wrestler at 119 pounds wrestling up a class to Waller’s home at 125, leave his leg outside while Waller was locked up with him up top. Waller leapt into action, going to a basic single-leg cradle quicker than Pitts could react. Seconds later, the referee blew the whistle indicating Waller had earned a trip to the Big Blue Invitational finals, one of the state’s premier tournaments.
“I just came out aggressive,” Waller said of the semifinal. “I’m not waiting for nothing.”
Waller did much the same in the final. He went on to go toe-to-toe with Penn State commitment and Davie County (N.C.) star Michael Waters and Waters caught Waller, just a sophomore, on an aggressive move where Waller slipped, and the experienced Waters got a takedown and worked Waller over from there.
No team from Central Virginia was in the running for a team title at Big Blue — that’s reserved for defending Group AA team champ and host Christiansburg and other state powerhouses like Matoaca (second) and North Carolina stalwart Davie County (third) — but the region certainly had some wrestlers in the mix Saturday during the final three rounds.
In fact, Waller wasn’t the only wrestler in the finals. Louisa County’s Josh Scharf knocked off Davie County’s Ryan Smith 9-6 to earn a berth in the final against Christiansburg’s Joey Dance, who won a state title in 2010. Scharf had to gut out the battle with Smith, surviving blood time from a cut on his knee that threw off the match’s rhythm and battling through lingering sickness that prevented him from finishing at last week’s Super 32 in Fredericksburg.
“It really hit me three days before last week,” Scharf said. “But I’ve been getting a lot more sleep lately and I’m fighting back.”
Dance pinned Scharf in the final, repeating last year’s Big Blue final’s outcome.
Albemarle’s Zach Morris, another standout wrestler for the Patriots, drew a tough matchup in the quarterfinal against nationally ranked Blake Roulo of Matoaca, the defending Group AAA champion. Morris battled Roulo in the quarters, but fell on a major decision 9-1. Morris bounced back in the consolation bracket and won out, taking third place overall in the tournament with an 8-7 victory over Battlefield’s Tevin Cooke.
Albemarle’s 171-pounder Ramel Jenkins fell in the quarterfinals to another Matoaca wrestler, Corbin Ramos. With Jenkins’ finish, Albemarle actually finished 18th with just three wrestlers picking up points. Louisa checked in at 19 and William Monroe finished 26th.
William Monroe’s Calvin Biesecker also advanced to the quarterfinals, falling to Pitts from St. Christopher’s 7-3, the wrestler who went on to lose to Albemarle’s Waller.
Albemarle is slated to head over to Orange County for a quad on Wednesday night while Louisa’s next action should be next Monday at home against Monticello High and Fluvanna County.