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March 22, 2015

Youth program provides future for FHS wrestling

Photos/Fred Tingle
Reece Kuhns (in black), a C.M. Bradley fifth-grader tries to maneuver fellow Fauquier Warhawk Nathan Hensley in a match for third place in the 74-pound class at a recent Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Association sectional match at Fauquier High School. Kuhns won the match on a 2-1 decision and qualified for the Southern Regional championship next month in Salisbury, Md.
Sam Fisher pinned Dalton Blankenship at 136-lbs. Fisher finished first in his class at the MAWA event.
Kobe Link placed second in the MAWA event. Here he tries to get the upper hand over Connor Roark.
By Chuck Jackson
Sports Editor

Photos by Fred Tingle

An early promise indicates the Kuhns kids potentially could start for Fauquier High School’s varsity wrestling team in just a few years.

The brothers, Reece, 11, and Mitch, 13, have participated in the youth program sponsored by Fauquier Wrestling since age 6.

Fauquier Wrestling has been in existence for over 15 years.

Many athletes have come through the doors in that span and a few have now gone onto college, including George Mason University redshirt junior Greg Flournoy, who wrestled this weekend at the NCAA-Div. I championships.

Five years later, the brothers have migrated from recreational wrestling (Fauquier Patriots) to the group’s travel team (Fauquier Warhawks).

The travel team participates in the Capital Area Wrestling League, a consortium of 16 teams that train and wrestle five months in the fall and winter.

They will continue this summer in the Birds of Prey off-season training.

Twelve of Fauquier’s 13 wrestlers who participated in the Conference 22 tournament in early February and went on to win the Virginia 4A state tournament in late February, started their careers in one of the three Fauquier Wrestling programs.

“There’s no doubt the success the high school program has enjoyed the past several years is because of our youth program,” FHS head wrestling Coach Doug Fisher said.

Jack Raines, the tournament director of last weekend’s Mid-Atlantic Wrestling Association-sanctioned sectional at FHS concurred.

“If you don’t have a feeder program, the high school team will suffer,” Raines said.

At every step in the process, volunteer coaches mentor each group.

Bruce Kerns heads the Warhawks with Jeff Budd and Raines assisting.

Zim Zoller heads the rec team and Fisher oversees the summer program.

Assistant coaches of Birds of Prey include Chris Thomas and Chris Moon, who as a redshirt-senior just completed his wrestling career at Virginia Tech.

Moon has the distinction of being the first program alumni to wrestle in the NCAA D-I tournament.

He did that in the 2011-12 season. He also qualified two years later after redshirting.

Last Saturday, Reece – an 11-year-old fifth grader at C.M. Bradley Elementary – participated in the MAWA event.

Reece normally wrestles in the 70-pound weight class but bumped himself up to 74 pounds after weighing in at 73.6.

“I like wrestling because it combines physical with technical,” Reece said confidently in between matches. “You have to be smart as well as strong.”

The brothers are sons of Cynde and Greg Kuhns of Warrenton.

Greg provided the impetus to his sons getting involved in youth wrestling, having done it himself while attending high school in Latrobe, Pa.

Cyndee, who worked concessions Saturday morning while Reece wrestled and won his first match, concedes she hasn’t always been a fan of her kids participating.

“I never watched them in matches until recently,” Cynde said. “I was afraid they’d get hurt. I’ve kind of grown into the sport.”

Sponsored by Fauquier Sports Foundation – the fundraising arm of FHS wrestling – the sectional drew over 500 wrestlers from the tiniest to adults wrestling in open competition.

Some came from surrounding counties while others traveled from as far as Pennsylvania, Maryland and West Virginia.

The youth took their turn Saturday morning, taking over six mats in both FHS gyms.

Seeded after entries closed March 11, the youngsters proved their mettle and bragging rights on the mats.

Twelve locals, including Reece, placed in the top four of their weight classes.

Ten youth finished top 3, allowing them the opportunity to advance to regional competition.

That grouping included Reece, who finished third in his class.

That event, the Southern Regional tournament, takes place April 11-12, in Salisbury, Md.

Local Results from MAWA sectional at FHS, March 14-15

66 lbs. – D.J. Richards
1st place

70 lbs. – Patrick Jordon
3rd place

74 lbs. – Reece Kuhns
3rd place

74 lbs. – Nathan Hensley
4th place

75 lbs. – Ethan Brown
4th place

80 lbs. – Kobe Link
2nd place

136 lbs. – Sam Fisher
1st place

105 lbs. – Joseph Del Gallo
3rd place

115 lbs. – Kyle Budd
2nd place

125 lbs. – Ty Foster
3rd place

135 lbs. – Camden Franklin
2nd place

171 lbs. – Clifford Harrison
2nd place
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