A year ago, Fork Union wrestler John Gritsko got on the podium, scrapping out an eighth place finish as a junior at 152 pounds.
This year, a year older and down a weight class, Gritsko placed much higher and helped power Fork Union to a third place finish as a team in the VISAA State championships.
At 145 pounds, Gritsko finished as the state runner-up, falling in the final to Peninsula Catholic junior Landon Kissell 8-2. Gritsko was one of two state runner-ups from the local contingent, with Woodberry’s Simon Taylor finishing second at 220 pounds.
Gritsko reached the final with a pair of pins and then a 9-1 major decision in the semifinals against St. Christopher’s Charlie Long.
Gritsko’s performance helped put the Blue Devils just a step behind powerhouse programs Benedictine and St. Christopher’s, with Benedictine holding off St. Chris for the Cadets’ first state title since 2017 while preventing the Saints’ third straight state title.
To help round out Fork Union’s scoring that led to that third place finish, the Blue Devils picked up several third place finishes. Christopher Carr took third at 106, Logan Kreamer took third at 120 and Austin Fogg took third at 160 pounds. The Blue Devils also got a lift from Lucas Yates who took fourth at 126, Jack McCall grabbing fifth at 113, Ethan Prusinski taking fourth at 182 and Corey Fraser grabbing eighth at 195
Woodberry finished ninth as a team, led by Taylor’s runner-up finish at 220 that came the hard way as he won a 2-1 decision in the first round, a 3-2 universal tiebreaker match in the quarterfinals and an upset 8-4 victory over Blue Ridge’s Amon Johnson in the semifinals. He fell 19-5 to Benedictine’s Logan Cohn in the title match.
The Tigers also got a third place finish from Rainey O’Malley at 113 pounds, a seventh place finish at 152 from Charlie Dalton, a fifth from Sam Cochran at 160 pounds, an eighth from Beau Harrison at 170, another eighth from Nicolas Ball at 182 and from Hutch Bray finishing seventh at 285 pounds.
Blue Ridge’s defending state champion Amon Johnson ended his repeat bid in third place, winning 6-5 and 3-1 decisions to nab third after falling to Woodberry’s Taylor 8-4 in the semifinals. Nicholas Berger and Nathan Santos also scored points for the Barons.
Covenant’s Matthew Knowles finished 8th at 106 to get the Eagles on the podium. Lucas Sanker, John Gayle, Charlie Lepage, Cole Finley, Jude Steljes and Ayden Wyant also scored for the Eagles.