Rick Weaver is just a freshman, but he’s already a state champion.
The Covenant School’s young heavyweight won the VISAA state title Saturday, pinning Benedictine’s Ian Williams in the title match in the second period. The effort that went into the match and the result are a testament to the leap that Weaver, who wrestled for the Eagles as an eighth grader, has made.
“He really has developed a lot over the last year,” said Covenant coach Colin Anderson. “I think the key element that’s developed is his toughness. He’s really teachable. Things started clicking this year.”
Weaver trailed Williams, also an all-state defensive lineman during football season for the Cadets, 5-4 after the first period. But Weaver rallied and made a big move. Thirty-nine seconds into the second period he pinned Williams.
Weaver started his tournament with a 5-3 decision in the state quarterfinals as he and Williams, by virtue of their records, both got a bye to start the bracket. Weaver advanced with a 5-3 decision over Pope John Paul’s Matthew Keller and then pinned Woodberry Forest’s Darby Henagan in the semifinal.
That win set up a rematch with Williams, who he’d already wrestled twice this season. In both matches Williams had won and they served as Weaver’s lone losses of the year.
“Now he’s beaten everyone that he wrestled this year,” Anderson said.
It was no accident either. The Covenant staff and Weaver knew that he’d probably see Williams again in the final, so they got serious about preparing for the wrestler who’d handed him those two losses earlier in the season.
“We went through the reasons he lost that match, what he had to work on,” Anderson said. “He’s just really responsive and he kept a good attitude all year. He gets himself ready for every match, every time he steps on the match.”
Weaver’s readiness and effort Saturday ensured that his two losses was where his record would stay, with the decisive pin giving him a title.
Weaver becomes just the second state champion in Covenant wrestling history, joining Paul Huemme who won the 160-pound title last season.
Weaver wasn’t the only Eagle with a strong outing at the VISAA tournament. Senior Zach Scharf took home fifth place at 132 pounds bouncing back from a quarterfinal loss to take fifth in the consolations. Scharf had his sights set on a state title or at least a shot at one, and when that didn’t work out, he had to reset his focus.
“He wasn’t planning on wrestling for fifth place,” Anderson said. “It says a lot about his character the way he finished.”
Eight graders Colin Castrina at 106 pounds and David Stiegler took seventh and eight respectively in their VISAA debut. John Huemme took eighth place at 160 pounds.
“We had a really rough first day of states, we didn’t wrestle well,” Anderson said. “We had a heart-to-heart with the team and I was really proud of the guys wrestling back (through consolations). They really did a great job, I was really happy the way they wrestled the second day.”
Four of the Eagles’ five state medalists were all underclassmen, which means that the future is bright for what’s becoming a now regular home to state champions and one of the top development-focused wrestling programs in Central Virginia.
“I think the young guys are starting to think they can compete now, when they’re younger,” Anderson said. “I think we’ve got some good momentum. It’s a community effort and we’ve got some great coaches (assistants Nick Endres and Brian Lee).”
Woodberry places 10th as a team
The Woodberry wrestling team took 10th place in the overall team competition.
Davis Smith took third place at 160 pounds, beating Potomac’s Taylor Homser with an early pin in the second period. Darby Henagan also took third after losing to Covenant’s Weaver in the semifinals. He pinned Grace Christian’s Nathaniel Grow for the third place finish.
Andrew Holmes won the fifth place match at 152, Will Medick took sixth place for the Tigers at 132 pounds, Roy Toston took fifth at 170.