The George Mason High School gymnasium, better known as “The Pit,” was the scene of non-stop action Saturday from 10 a.m. until after 3 p.m. as the Mason wrestling team hosted teams from Liberty, Fauquier and Chantilly high schools in the first of their two home dates of the 2007-08 season. The Mustang grapplers made the most of their opportunities that day, as several members of the squad went undefeated and the team managed to come away with their first dual victory of the year, a 39-36 win over Chantilly’s B squad. They did not fare quite so well against Fauquier’s B squad, losing 48-29, or against Liberty, as they fell in a close one, 39-33.
Mason’s four veterans, Steve Parks, Barratt Kennett, David Ray and Tim Hillegass, each finished the day 3-0, but that wasn’t the only big news for the team. Freshman Drew Dixon, who has been making steady progress throughout the season, came up big with three victories of his own, two by pin. The emergence of Dixon was seen as cause for excitement by Assistant Coach Bryan Harris.
“Drew works really hard in practice and it is good to see that it is paying off,” said Harris, who added that Dixon now has four wins since returning from holiday break. The Mustangs also got a big boost in their fortunes for not only the day but for their season, when junior Jake Schwind returned to the lineup after an extended absence and went 2-1. In addition Charlie Khaliq, who went out with an injured back in mid-December, returned to action in an exhibition match and pinned his opponent. Khaliq hopes to be in the regular lineup by Mason’s next home match on February 2. Perhaps the biggest excitement though was over the debut of freshman Jackson Thomas at 103 lb., the first time Mason has had an entry at that weight in six years. After two close losses, Thomas secured his first career victory with a second period pin of Chantilly’s CJ Coolman in his third match.
“I feel like I should knock on wood or something so I don’t jinx anything, but we are very excited about Jackson’s future,” said Harris. “He has been wrestling only a month and he looks great. Needless to say we are very excited and happy to have him on the team.”
On a bittersweet note, Saturday also marked the final Mason appearance of eighth grader Campbell Kennett. Kennett, who earned two victories in the JV competition, is moving to Australia.
The Mustangs' next action is this weekend in a tournament at Oakton High School. The tournament is a two-day affair with wrestling beginning at 3 p.m. on Friday and again at 11 a.m. on Saturday.