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Group AA/A state wrestling
By JIM McCONNELL
SALEM--Leading by seven points against an opponent he had beaten just last week, Bryan Seal could've let his mind wander during the third period of last night's Group AA 135-pound final.
But even as he piled up the points against James Wood's Logan Snyder, Seal recalled a familiar message his father had drilled into his subconscious so many years ago: Never let up. Never take an opponent for granted. Never assume anything.
So Seal, easily one of the most humble, unassuming defending champions in the history of Virginia high school wrestling, did what comes naturally.
He kept working until the final whistle.
Only after the referee raised Seal's arm, giving the official stamp of approval to his 13-1 victory, did the Orange County High School senior allow himself to soak up the cheers and acknowledge the magnitude of what he had just accomplished.
"The last two years have been unbelievable, really," said Seal, flashing a wide grin. "It's every wrestler's dream coming up to win a state title and now I've got two of them."
As a sophomore, Seal failed to even qualify for the state tournament after placing fifth in Region II. In the 24 months since, he's been all but unbeatable.
He finished 45-1 last season, with the lone loss coming in a late-season match against four-time Group A champion Todd Smoot of Manassas Park, and won his first state championship at 130 pounds.
Seal's victory over Snyder capped a senior season that was even better: 43-0, and another state title earned while wearing a large bull's-eye on the back of his orange singlet.
He is Orange's first two-time state wrestling champion, and the first local wrestler to repeat as a Group AA champion since Culpeper's Fred Santinga won the 185-pound weight class in 1985 and '86.
"I told him, 'Everybody is gunning for you. Instead of being the hunter, you're the hunted now,'" Orange coach John Kayajanian said. "It was a challenge for him to come back and do it again, and he's handled it well."
Seal was one of two Fredericksburg-area champions this year. Louisa senior John Wittenburg completed a 43-3 season by blanking Christiansburg's Drew Squires 6-0 in the 119-pound final.