Fisher, Camarca max out and carry Falcons to a State Championship Title
by: Ted Proctor
Fisher, Camarca max out and carry Falcons to a State Championship Title
Tuscarora High School, Leesburg, VA
On February 22, Fauquier claimed the 2020 4A Wrestling State Championships Title.
An impressive late season State surge had nobody expecting the Falcons to fly away from Tuscarora HS. Saturday with the Championship Crown.
Heading into the State Championship Finals round Fauquier had the lead with 152.5 points but only a 3.5 point lead over second place Great Bridge.
Fisher: "It wasn’t until the finals did I even check the team scores. I felt that we were still able to win, but it would require us to control our own destiny."
The Falcons were led by (126) DJ Richards, (138) Gino Camarca, and (182) Sam Fisher who all won individual State Championships to seal it for team Fauquier.
(138) Gino Camarca - Fauquier in Action at State Championships
Fisher:: "DJ’s pin was huge. It really gave us many different paths to win the team title. It also put a lot of pressure on the Great Bridge guys to execute."
Sam Fisher's victory in the State Finals would also earn him the status of being the first 4X Wrestling State Champion for Fauquier HS. and Fauquier County.
This State Championships would be Fauquier wrestling's third team State Title in the past six years while sweeping the 2020 postseason with a District and Region Championship run in the prior two weeks.
(182) Sam Fisher - Fauquier in Action at State Championships
Day 1 of State:
The opening Championship round had team Fauquier going 8 and 1 and advancing 8 Falcons onto the State Championship Quarters. The Falcons came out of the gate strong recording 7 earned pins during the first round.
Fauquier would hold the first-round lead with 30 points, Eastern View HS. had 29 and Great Bridge HS. was in third with 28.5 points.
During the Championship Quarter Finals, team Fauquier continued to be on a roll by going 7 and 1 while advancing 7 wrestlers onto the Championship Semi-Finals.
The Falcons earned three pins from the three seniors (138) Gino Camarca, (182) Sam Fisher, and (285) Casey Burr.
The 2020 VHSL State Championship fills a 16-man bracket for each weight class. If a wrestler would suffer a loss twice on day one, then they would be eliminated, as the state brackets slim down to a six-man field in each weight.
On the conclusion of day one team Fauquier went for an impressive 19 and 3 individual record during their 22 matches and advanced eight Falcons to the second day of the State Championships.
Fisher: "Day one was an amazing effort. We really set ourselves up going into day 2. Our only guy who didn’t make it was David DeWald, and he really had a tough road to traverse as he had the returning state champ in the first round.
He wrestled really well and after going down some in points, he had the kid backing up and taking stall calls and David starting scoring at will. He just ran out of time."
Team Fauquier had advanced the most wrestlers onto the Championship Semi-Finals with seven, Great Bridge and county rival Liberty HS. both had advanced six wrestlers.
Day 2 of States:
The start of the second day, five teams hovered on top of the leader board with team scores of Fauquier 84, Great Bridge 82.5, Jefferson Forest 80, Eastern View 77, and Liberty 71.5.
While Fauquier had a small lead over Great Bridge the question looming was could Fauquier continue with day 1's performance on day 2 of the State Championships.
But in some sense team Fauquier would have to wrestle even better than they had over the past two weeks that we saw at District and Regional Championships if the Falcons wanted a chance for the Team Title.
Last year in 2019, Great Bridge won the 4A wrestling State Championships and was in a position once again to win the State Championships for a 22nd time resting a point and a half behind the Falcons.
Advancing max wrestlers onto the Championship Finals was key for both teams.
While the Championship Semi-Finals was the first round on day two, earning an individual victory in the Semi-Finals would earn 11 team points and if a win comes with bonus points, you can add up to two more points to the total.
Fauquier went 4 and 3 in the Championship as (126) DJ Richards, (138) Gino Camarca, (160) Eric DeWald, and (182) Sam Fisher all would represent team Fauquier in the 2020 4A State Finals.
Fisher:"Going into that semis round, I felt pretty good about Gino and Sam getting the job done. I knew Tommy had a hammer in front of him. I was concerned about DJ because of his injury but I felt he could make it through. I knew Eric had a tough one in a kid that beat him only a few weeks prior, but I knew we had made the necessary adjustments to allow Eric to be successful.
For Ben and Casey they both had real quality guys in front of them and I wasn’t sure how those would turn out."
(195) Ben Bell - Fauquier in Action at State Championships
Pins were earned by (138) Gino Camarca and (182) Sam Fisher. But one of the most important Semi-Finals match came from Junior (160) Eric DeWald verses Parker Hoden (Amherst County).
DeWald had lost to Hoden during a late season tournament while a rematch had most Fauquier Nations fans thirsty for a victory when it counted the most.
A 0-0 first period score had both wrestlers earning an escape over the following two periods for a 1-1 tie through regulation play. DeWald earned an overtime take down in the 45 seconds mark with the go ahead 3-1 win over Hoden.
Fisher: "Eric really showed what he was capable of in that match. He stood toe to toe with him period after period and wore the kid down. You could see that he was getting closer and closer to scoring as the match went along. I was feeling really good about our chances once we went into overtime, because Eric is one of the hardest working kids on the team and overtime is where that pays off."
(160) Eric DeWald - Fauquier in Action at State Championships
After this round the Falcons improve to 133.5 team points and still held the lead the over Great Bridge. Advancing four Fauquier wrestlers to the State Championship Finals, Great Bridge, Liberty, and Eastern View all would have one less with three finalists.
Team Fauquier still had points to be earned with four wrestlers nested in the Consolations placement rounds. The question was where these Falcons would be standing on the podium at day's end.
No Falcons were able to bring home the bronze medal while (195) Ben Bell and (285) Casey Burr both earned 4th Place State honors.
(285) Casey Burr - Fauquier in Action at State Championships
(120) Reece Kuhns and (220) Thomas Heisler wrestled for 5th place status while they both earned wins to help keep the Falcons on top of the leader board heading into the Championship Finals.
The Postseason Run:
It was stated in the local Fauquier Times paper last week that the State Tournament was ‘Charted out'. As it turns out, an incorrect map must have been used.
Even though Jefferson Forest brought the most wrestlers to States with 13, Great Bridge had 12 wrestlers, Eastern View with 10 first round bouts, team Fauquier would have 9. Having fewer alone would be a big disadvantage for the Falcons.
For the Falcons to even have a chance at the State Championships it all depended on a large number of participants to earn wins each round and advance more through each postseason Championship tournament.
Fisher: "I have had concerns for a few years now about the inequality when it comes to the regions. You can’t necessarily control the quality of teams in a region, but there are some regions with very few teams and as such they don’t even have a District tournament.
In those regions it is easier for the dominant team in the region to get guys through that wouldn’t get through to the state tournament otherwise.
Additionally, teams in those regions can sit back and see where wrestlers from teams that have district tournaments are entered and they can move wrestlers if they so choose to avoid tougher opponents. There was at least one instance of that this year."
Nobody expected team Fauquier to win the Northwestern District and Region C Championships and no one charted or factored Fauquier to be holding the VHSL State trophy after the last match Saturday night for the end of the season State Championship team pictures.
No charts, no formula, not even a handheld calculator could track Fauquier wrestling while the Falcons continued to improved dramatically each week from the last match of the regular season to the District, Region, and State Championships.
Keeping the Falcons Fresh in the post season and on a path that has the wrestling team peaking at the right time going into State Tournament is the recipe. Coaches continued to make individual wrestling adjustments to each wrestler each day and provided a positive and success pathway which lead right up to the State Championships Finals.
Fisher:"Peaking is a science and there are many factors that come into play. We definitely picked up our intensity, focus and effort the last 3 weeks. But along with that guys like Casey Burr and Ben Bell helped keep the mood on the team fun and light.
When everyone buys into the end goal, everyone is on the same page and is willing and wants to put in the extra work."
With Great Bridge resting in second place right behind Fauquier by 3.5 points heading into the final round of the State Championship, even Liberty HS. who was in 4th place with a 21.5-points deficit behind the leaders could not find a chart that would lead them to State Hardware (top 2 teams).
Host Tuscarora HS. ran a State Finals that had the gym lights turned off for the pre-match state finalist announcement as wrestlers reported to the center of the mat for a handshake before the finals started.
(160) Eric Dewald - Fauquier in Action running out for the handshake
While Great Bridge won the first final bout at 106 lbs weight class and jumped Fauquier by a half of a point, this would be the first time another team would have the lead during the State Championships.
But as DJ Richard had a match just two bouts later that would be the last.
(126) DJ Richards would be the first of four Fauquier wrestlers to wrestle in the state finals. With a score being 0-0 after the first period Richards on top earned a pin at the 3:11 mark over Sean Hall (Powhatan).
This pin by Richards would give the Falcons 6 points and would re-take the lead over Great Bridge by 5.5 points.
DJ Richards victory in the state final becomes the second freshmen wrestler in Fauquier HS. and Fauquier County (second to Sam Fisher) to win the postseason District, Region, and State Championships.
Fisher: "That is a tremendous accomplishment. DJ has many of the attributes that are the hardest to teach. Things like mental toughness, focus, willing to take risk, etc. What is exciting is he has huge upside in other areas. He made significant progress in those areas (technique, physical preparation, willingness to prepare, etc) and I expect if he continues his growth in those areas, he will become a force on the national level, and not just in Virginia."
(126) DJ Richards in Action during State Finals and the second freshmen wrestler in Fauquier HS. and Fauquier County to win the postseason District, Region, and State Championships.
Two State Finals matches later senior (138) Gino Camarca took the lead early with a first period takedown. Camarca never stopped his dominant wrestling style through the second and third period.
Gino Camarca controlled the entire match and earned a team pin over William Winegardner (Liberty) late in the third period at the 5:46 minute mark.
Camarca had wrestled Winegardner twice this season and was victorious both times in close matches. This pin gave the Falcons 6 points which extended the lead to 11.5 points over Great Bridge.
Fisher: "With DJ’s pin, the conservative side of me recognized that Gino just needed to win to set us up for team victory knowing we still have Eric and Sam on deck. Gino had other plans. I felt like Gino was on a Vision Quest all year. If you have seen the movie, you will know exactly what I mean. Historically, once Gino is winning, I encourage him to stay out of positions that are dangerous.
But this year at states, it was a different Gino, and he was not going to be denied. While up by 4 points in the third period, he knew he was going to pin the kid that he had had multiple close matches with, then he just threw Winegardner to his back and did it."
As the Falcons would extend the lead to 164.5 points to Great Bridge 153 points, both teams would still have two wrestlers on deck.
Great Bridge responded by earning a pin during the 145-pounds finals to improve to 159 points.
While Great Bridge's final wrestler also won the 152-points finals match by a major, the Wildcats could not earn enough bonus to jump Fauquier on the score board.
Even though Fauquier still had wrestlers on deck the State Championships had been won by Team Fauquier.
The (182) pounds weight class had Sam Fisher on a mission to be a 4X State Champ and it did not take long for this to be obtained with a fall over Josh Brooks (Amherst County) in the first minute of the first period.
Fisher: "There is a picture of Sam squatting on the mat and waiting patiently for the previous weights awards to be handed out and his finals match to begin. This picture was captured by Debbie Franklin and she noted how calm he seemed. Certainly, when you consider that this was to be his final high school match of his career, in the state finals, going for his 4th state title and helping his team seal the deal on the state championship. I noticed it at the time also, and I think he was at peace.
He had done everything he possibly could in the last 4 years to be where he was with respect to his own personal accomplishments, he went above and beyond anything any other captain had ever done (that I have seen) to will his team to reaching the pinnacle of team sports, a state title, and he was confident in his own preparation specific to that match. He was genuinely at peace."
(182) Sam Fisher in Action during State Finals and becomes the first 4X Wrestling State Champion for Fauquier HS. and Fauquier County.
As Fisher and Camarca were both four-year starters earning State Team Runner up status during their Freshmen and Sophomore years, going into the 2020 State Championships these two Fauquier captains had an assignment and it was to rally team Fauquier for a run at the state title in an unbelievable accomplishment.
Fisher: "So only 2 wrestlers out of 224 wrestlers in the VA 4A State Championships scored the maximum number of team points that can be earned in the tournament. That number is 30 team points. Those 2 wrestlers were both from the same team… Fauquier. Gino and Sam were the only 2 wrestlers out of 224 to win all 4 of their matches and do it by pin in each match against the best competition in our division.
I believe that says a lot about them but I also believe it says a lot about our program and the mentality of the guys that we are putting out on the mat. Gino had his finals match won but he was not content until he got the pin. Sam didn’t even need the pin at that point for the team, but you don’t turn that mentality on and off at will, it is trained into them."
It surely did not take long after the final State Championship bout was concluded that team Fauquier had a hold of the first-place trophy.
While hundreds of fingerprints must now rest as smudge marks on the VHSL prize it was obvious that this was the first time this senior class, new coaches and managers had a hold of a State Championship trophy that they had worked so hard to capture.
It was a story for the record books and a State Championship moment that also be added to the "Fauquier All Time Greatest Moments and Achievements."
After the State Championship had concluded Coach Fisher addresses the team reflecting the 4A State Title.
Question for Coach Fisher:
Q: Team Fauquier had some speed bumps mid-way through the season. Nobody thought team Fauquier would be winning District and Region much less the State Championships in 2020. Any reflections on how team Fauquier got it done?
Fisher: "We had a lot of struggles this year, we lost one of our starters to a broken arm, one of our returning state qualifiers and previous District Champs decided it wasn’t for him this year. With our schedule that is frontloaded with tough teams and tournaments, we really were trying to find a foothold.
Every year teams have peaks and valleys throughout the season, but this year we really bottomed out at the Virginia Duals. It was at that point Sam and Gino stepped up and demanded better effort from everyone as it was very apparent that everyone was not putting forth their best effort on the mat.
We determined that they were trying to put forth their best effort ie, it wasn’t a lack of will to win. It was simply they did not have the will to prepare. That is when the climb started. Everyone committed at that point to do what was necessary to be better.
Sam started holding everyone accountable to their promise. The guys bought in, worked harder, studied film, prepared for practice, ate better, got more sleep, focused during technique session, reflected on mistakes and put in effort to fix the mistakes. It was really a storybook ending."
Q: Team Fauquier earned bonus points to stay in first place throughout the State Championship. A total of 19 pins were recorded, any reflections with that?
Fisher: "Bonus points win dual meets and tournaments. We preach it all year, we work with guys individually to make sure they have the weapons that they need and are confident in to score the bonus points."
Q: Bringing 9 wrestlers and placing 8 to the State Championship; having three State Champions all on one team. The third State Title for team Fauquier in six years; How could the 2020 State Championship team be ranked?
Fisher: "This one was special for many reasons. We did not have the same level of experience. In previous titles, the guys that scored all the points were guys that had been wrestling forever. Although we had a handful of those guys on our team this year, we also got huge points from guys that are relatively new to wrestling. Guys like Ben Bell, Casey Burr and Thomas Heisler. Seeing those guys contribute so significantly to the team title give a huge sense of satisfaction from a coaching perspective.
Additionally, watching Sam be such a huge part of the story in our success both as a team member and as a captain. Watching his maturation into an extremely effective vocal leader was a huge personal proud coach/dad moment."
Q: 10 of the 28 State Finals weight classes had a NW District represented in the finals. That’s 35% and clearly the dominate District in the state is NW District. In some sense the NW District teams are at a disadvantage and seem highly unlikely that teams can advance or substance 13 or 12 participants like Jefferson Forest and Great Bridge did in 2020 4A State Championships. Team Fauquier still got it done, but can you tell our readers your thoughts on the strength of the NW District.
Fisher: "Your numbers don’t lie. That is a huge amount of the finalists coming from our District. It definitely put us at a disadvantage as I know we had some guys that didn’t make the state tournament that were better than some of the kids from other regions that had an easier path. You feel for those kids, but they will need to rise to the occasion next year.
If Liberty was not as good as they were, we would not have risen to the occasion and been nearly as good at the end of the year. They pushed us to be the best versions our ourselves, which fortunately was ultimately the best team in the state."
UPDATE: Championship Semi-Finals ~ 4A State Championships > >
UPDATE: Championship Quarters Finals ~ 4A State Championships > >
UPDATE: Championship RD 1 ~ 4A State Championships > >
Follow Fauquier at the 4A State Championships > >
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The Preview: Fauquier @ 4A State Championships > >
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Fauquier Past Post Season Results:
DISTRICT CHAMPIONS: 2020 | 2019 | 2018 | 2016 | 2015 | 2014 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 1972 | 1971
REGION CHAMPIONS: 2020 | 2019 | 2017 | 2016 | 2015 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010
STATE CHAMPIONS: 2020 | 2016 | 2015 | STATE RUNNER-UP: 2018 | 2017 | 2014 | 2009