CHARLES TOWN - The Jefferson Junior Wrestling Association has been on a bit of a roll as of late.
After a great performance at the West Virginia Junior State wrestling tournament earlier this year, the JJWA followed it up with another impressive outing at the Mason-Dixon tournament.
This time the team finished third with 35 overall placewinners, six runners-up and five champions.
Those champions included Cash Curry, Logan McFarland, James Battugla, Keegan Judd and Hunter Locke. Wyatt Meadows, Zachary Meisenzahl, Fisher Fraddosio, Daniel Heath, Caleb Wise and Nate Phillips all earned second.
"We were excited because we have the largest team we've had in a long time," JJWA coach Zac Curry said. "We're really proud of how they did."
Unlike most tournaments, the Mason-Dixon did not give bonus points for pins and technical falls, which in the end, hurt JJWA's chances of winning.
The league finished with the most pins, combined tech falls and pins and match points during the tournaments, and the young wrestlers had the second-most tech falls by a team.
"We are definitely improving," Curry said. "One of the things we strive for is to have kids score bonus points. We probably have not concentrated practice-wise on pins and tech falls as much as score, score, score."
The pins and tech falls came from just hard work on the mat and knowing how to score during a match.
Curry said he pointed to Penn State as an example for the young wrestlers on what to strive for.
"Why are they a powerhouse? Because they pin and tech fall kids," he said.
Cash Curry started the winning off for JJWA as a bantam.
"Obviously it was emotional, like last year when he won states. There's something fun when they're still little," Curry said of his son. "It was like a proud papa moment. They had some tough matches. It wasn't an easy road."
Cash Curry beat a wrestler who was 22-0 in the semis and turned around to defeat another undefeated opponent in the finals. Curry said having his son wrestle up in weight classes during league matches has definitely helped him on the mat.
"He hasn't been pinned in two years, which is insane for a 7 year old," he said.
McFarland followed his second state championship with his second Mason-Dixon title in a row.
"He just dominated the field. He was on fire," Curry said.
He added that McFarland is probably the nicest kid in the wrestling room despite his tough demeanor on the mat.
Battugla capped his title run with a fall in the finals to win.
"Just dominated his field. Just a tough, tough wrestler," Curry said.
Battugla and Judd are both new to the organization and are excelling tremendously.
"Keegan and James are relatively new to JJWA," he explained. "They are two very exciting wrestlers to watch. They just really helped propel our team to the next level."
The final champion was no surprise to anyone: Hunter Locke.
Curry said the biggest thing about Locke is how consistently he wins and called him a great example to point to as a role model on and off the mat for the younger wrestlers.
"Tough bracket, but just grinded and put kids in bad situations," Curry said. "To see him end up his career with JJWA with another Mason-Dixon title was just great."
Locke's last run is also the last run of his grandfather Craig Abshire, who has headed the organization for decades.
Curry said they never told the kids to win for Coach Craig, but many of them fought through their matches with their coach in mind, wanting to send him out in the best fashion possible. Curry added that it speaks volumes of the young wrestlers' character, wanting to do their very best for the man who has taught them so much.
"Seeing five kids get out there and get their hands raised was great," Curry said. "I want to see those kids who were right there get it next year."
The goal of the organization is to grow every year with this year having one of the largest rosters to date. JJWA is anticipating having close to 100 wrestlers on the team next season.
"We have 20 teams this year (in the Mason-Dixon), I think. We've grown over the last four years from 15 to 20," Curry said. "That steps up the competition. It speaks to the competition. It was some great competition."
The young wrestlers will continue to work and improve with the organization and league. The JJWA focuses on freestyle and folkstyle wrestling all year.