Mason wrestling makes history


Photo via @gmhssports on Twitter.

The Mason wrestling team poses for a photo with their second place trophy after the regional tournament. This season marks the first time in Mason history that the wrestling team has earned a trophy at the regional tournament.

Sierra Sulc, Editor-in-Chief

As the winter sports season comes to a close, the George Mason wrestling team has left its mark on Mason history. For the first time in our school’s history, the team had a full lineup of 14 wrestlers at the postseason district and regional tournaments. Although many of them were first-year wrestlers, the team was able to succeed in ways that would have otherwise been impossible.

One of these feats was the team’s victory over longtime rival Strasburg High School on February 9. The team lost to Strasburg several times throughout the season, including at the postseason district tournament on February 2 by only six points. This resulted in Mason taking second place at districts while Strasburg took first. However, the Mustangs were able to beat out Strasburg the following weekend for second place at the regional tournament, runner up to Wilson Memorial High School. This victory over Strasburg was monumental for the team and was the first time that Mason wrestling has beat Strasburg in at least 20 years.

Even more impressive, when the Mustangs took second place at the regional tournament, it marked the first time in our school’s history that Mason has earned a trophy at regionals.

A trophy
The Region B runner-up trophy that the Mason wrestling team earned on February 9. Photo by Sierra Sulc.

“The Bull Run District and Region B have always been a hotbed of wrestling and among the toughest and most competitive wrestling districts in the state. George Mason has always been able to compete individually… but team hardware from the district and region have eluded us for decades… This year, despite major injuries to a number of our top wrestlers, George Mason was able to field a full roster and qualify in all 14 weight classes ever at both districts and regions, enabling GMHS to finish as the team runner up in the Bull Run District and bring home the Region B runner up trophy. It was a great team effort and positions us well to move up and meet the challenges in Group 3A next season,” said Shaw Cohe, Mason Wrestling coach for over 20 years.

A group of athletes and coaches huddle together.
Members of the Mason wrestling team huddles at the state tournament before they begin wrestling. Despite many injuries this season, the team was very strong. “We lost some good people to injuries throughout the year and we were able to come together and win when it really mattered in the postseason,” said senior West Hagler. Photo via @GMHSHarris on Twitter.

At regionals, four of Mason’s wrestlers placed 3rd or above and were able to move onto the state tournament: seniors Bryan Villegas (113 lbs), West Hagler (145 lbs), Connor Murray (160 lbs), and Nick Zaenger (170 lbs). The four state qualifiers along with coaches, managers, and alternates (wrestlers that placed 4th at regionals) headed down to Salem, Virginia on Thursday, February 14 and wrestling began at the Salem Civic Center the next day. After several days of wrestling, two of the four state qualifiers placed top six in the state; Bryan Villegas placed fourth and West Hagler placed fifth.

“I’m really proud of how we progressed this season. We lost some good people to injuries throughout the year and we were able to come together and win when it really mattered in the postseason… This is the best team I’ve seen since I started watching Mason wrestling in fourth grade: so much talent,” said Hagler.