NRHS wrestler places fifthPublished 10:00pm Tuesday, February 19, 2013
Nansemond River junior heavyweight wrestler Caleb Repko placed fifth in his inaugural appearance at the 2013 Virginia State AAA Wrestling Tournament on Saturday at Oscar Smith High School.
Though it was an impressive achievement, Repko had such a strong season with only four losses this year that the finish prompted mixed emotions that leaned toward disappointment.
“It’s cool, but I just felt like I could have done better, I could have placed higher,” he said. “So, that I’m fifth and three people ahead of me I beat throughout the regular season, it kind of makes me feel like I underachieved. But it’s still cool.”
The tournament started out well for Repko after he pinned Gary Dorsey from L.C. Bird High School in three minutes. But then he faced Vika Mathias from Mount Vernon High School and lost in a 3-0 decision.
“I would just say that he came to wrestle in the quarterfinals and I was kind of coasting, I guess,” Repko said. “You need to wrestle every match like it’s the state finals and I kind took him lightly and he made me pay.”
“He had a good tournament his first time there,” Nansemond River head coach Tripp Seed said. “He got the experience and everything, and I think he may have looked past that kid a little bit.”
Seed commented on the competition at the state level.
“You wrestle that tournament again this weekend, the top five, eight guys will be totally different,” he said.
This initial loss moved Repko to a different bracket where he faced and defeated Temple Derico from J.R. Tucker High School on a 6-2 decision. Next, he pinned Alex Skidmore from Ocean Lakes High School, who ended up finishing eighth.
Repko had defeated Cosby High School’s Tyler Powell earlier in the year, but Powell got the better of him this time, getting a pin in 2:21.
“He just dominated me,” Repko said. “I just didn’t wrestle good.”
The loss sent Repko into a match to determine the fifth-place finisher, and he found himself facing a familiar opponent — Mathias. Repko wrestled hard and pinned him in 4:23, motivated to get the last placement on the podium.
“He was beating him pretty bad when he pinned him,” Seed said.
“After the match, I just wished that I had wrestled every match like I wrestled that match,” Repko said.
Repko has never faced the first-place finisher, but had pinned second-place finisher Anthony Helm earlier this season and had beaten third-place finisher Tyler Fain multiple times, including last week for the Eastern Region championship.
Senior 145-pound wrestler Saquan Branch also competed at the state tournament but was not able to place.
“He wrestled good,” Seed said. “He lost to the kid who came in second, and he lost to him by two or three points, which is a very winnable match. I think he should have won the match, to be honest with you.”
“And then in the loser’s bracket, he lost 5-4, and I don’t like to blame the referees a lot, but the referees missed a call, and it cost him a point and that was the difference in the match,” Seed added.
Coach Seed was positive about this season overall for Nansemond River wrestling. In his six years as coach, he said, Repko is only the third wrestler to place at the state tournament.
“We won 23 dual meets, which is really good,” he said.
“I have four kids who made it to the round of eight at the region tournament,” he said. “I got two region place-holders coming back, seven regional qualifiers. This was a good team this year, but the best team I think I’m going to have is going to be next year, if we keep everybody healthy and everybody out there.”
Repko was clear about his goals.
“Next season I want to win a state championship, and I don’t want to lose,” he said.
“I think he’ll be one of the favorites to win it next year,” Seed said. “He should be.”