WRESTLING: Beckner proves that he’s in a class by himself

SALEM — Two years ago after losing the 106-pound state championship for his only loss of the season, Warren County's Zach Beckner vowed to work hard and win championships in his junior and senior seasons.

Consider Beckner's mission accomplished.

After winning the 113-pound title a year ago, Beckner completed his goal by dominating the 126-pound weight class at the 3A state championship tournament last Friday and Saturday at the Salem Civic Center.

Beckner (51-2) pinned Daniel Hoge of Christiansburg in his opening match, dominated Sebastian Phillips of Broadway 16-2 in the semifinals and then easily dispatched Sam Ring (38-4) of Cave Spring 12-3 in the finals.

Beckner took control early in each match and was never threatened.

The Cave Spring fans booed Beckner two seconds before the match was over after the Wildcats only two-time state champ celebrated with a fist pump toward the crowd as he rode Ring out.

"I didn't mean any disrespect, but I was on mission and to prove a point," Beckner said. "It might seem cocky, but I wanted to show that I'm on another level."

With several D-1 collegiate scholarships to now consider, Beckner will be on that next level after graduation.

"Cave Spring was booing me because I just beat their boy, but I just wanted to prove that I'm on another level than these guys," Beckner said. "When I get to D-1 next year I'm gonna start out on the bottom of the fish tank and I'm gonna work my up until I'm the best in D-1. That's what I want."

Beckner leaves quite a legacy at Warren County, not only as the programs first two-time champ, but as the career wins leader among many other accomplishments.

"Beckner showed his dominance and really cemented himself as our best wrestler," Warren County coach Matt Wadas said. "He leaves a great legacy for our younger kids to follow."

One of those younger kids is freshman 106-pound finalist Hunter Jost.

Jost, came in the tournament as a No. 4 seed, but posted a pair of upsets and took Brentsille's top-ranked Johnny Walker to limit int he finals, losing 3-1 in overtime.

"I mean as a freshman I'm happy I took second, but in my head I wanted to win," Jost said. "Next time in overtime I won't take a sloppy shot. I'm hoping by the time I'm a senior I can win a state title."

Warren senior Jacob Schneider claimed his second all-state medal by claiming third in the very tough 182-pound division.

After losing to eventual state champion, three-time winner Ross Graham in the finals, Schneider came back to beat Eric Eva of Christiansburg and Trent Ragland of New Kent to take third.

"I'm just happy it's over," said Schneider, who says he will now start training for his upcoming stint in the Marine Corps. "Wrestling helps, but it doesn't give me what I need. I need to start swimming and running and stuff like that. And I get to do jiujitsu full time now. That's more fun than wrestling."

Junior Kevin Cruz medaled for the first time by taking fifth for the Wildcats in the 113-pound division.

"I honestly thought I could take third," Cruz said. "This is definitely the best team we have ever had."

Senior Zach Smith rounded out the Wildcats medal winners with a solid fifth-place finish in the 195-pound division in his first state appearance.

"I truly enjoyed it," Smith said. "I'm really disappointed that I didn't take third or fourth, but it does feel pretty good to be in the top five, but top four sounds a lot better."

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