Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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February 20, 2010

Grundy’s Owens makes history at the Virginia state wrestling tourney

SALEM, Va. — Tears of pain. Tears of joy. Ethan Owens wrestled with one, and then the other, in winning his first state championship.

Grundy came up short in the final team standings, while Owens became the first Golden Wave wrestler to win an individual state title in seven years with a 7-4 decision over Christiansburg’s Brady Epperly in the 140-pound finals of the Group AA state wrestling tournament Saturday night at Salem Civic Center.

Christiansburg clinched its ninth consecutive state team title when Rich Eva won his second straight 152-pound crown. The Blue Demons edged the Golden Wave by just nine points, 175-166, in the final team standings.

It was the fifth time in nine years Grundy finished second to Christiansburg, and it was at least the second time the Wave held a lead going into the championship finals.

Nine of 10 Grundy wrestlers placed Saturday. Four of them reached the finals, as did Tazewell’s Cody Wilson, the runner-up at 125 pounds.

Sean Vandyke (112), Cody Rife (145) and Tyler McClanahan (160) also placed second. Nine SWD wrestlers placed between third and seventh, including five from Grundy, and Graham’s Tanner Howell (160).

Ethan Owens had a 4-3 lead over Brady Epperly when he worked a takedown with just over a minute remaining in the finals at 140 pounds. Epperly then got an escape and drove the Grundy senior into the portable scoreboard and off the mat.

No penalty was assessed after the move, which fired up both the Grundy and the Christiansburg faithful. After a brief injury time Owens, in obvious pain after landing on his lower back, returned to the mat with a 5-4 lead and toughed out the final 53 seconds for an emotional victory.

“I had to suck it up and finish,” said Owens, who reached his second state final in three years. “I worked so hard for this. It was my match to win.”

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