Wrestler of the Year
ALL-STAR STUFF: Isaac Dolph bulked up and jumped two weight classes during the summer to 195 pounds. He didn’t have to worry about cutting weight anymore, and a clear mind allowed him to enjoy the best season of his high school career. Dolph went 44-0 and cruised to the Class 3 championship. The added weight didn’t hinder Dolph at all, who used his speed, hip strength and stamina to sometimes easily defeat his opponents. He opened the season with the River Rumble title, then realized his full potential with a major decision triumph in the finals of the LCA Invitational. That victory, he said, was the sign he had what it took to win a state championship. Dolph’s season also included titles from the Titan Toughman, Big Orange and Turner Ashby Holiday Tournament.
Q: Have you had a chance to put into words the feeling of finishing the season with an unblemished record and a state championship?
A: It was a feeling like no other. It had been kind of the goal since I started out in high school. Not really a goal when I was an underclassman that I thought was possible. I didn’t even think about the whole undefeated part. I just went into every match not willing to lose.
Q: Was there a point during the year that you knew this was going to be a special season?
A: Right from the start I knew that it was going to be a good one, after I won the first tournament [and] I went to [the River Rumble at Staunton River]. I realized the potential of the seniors that we had.
Q: You made a jump from 170 last year to 195 this season. How much did the weight gain help you?
A: I started out when I came into high school, I wrestled 138. Then I wrestled two years at 170, and then a year at 195. I didn’t want to cut weight; I didn’t want to be watching my weight as much. So I just got as big as I wanted to over the summer. By the time the season came around, I felt good where I’m at. In practice I felt good. I wrestled my best at that weight.
Q: What allowed you to wrestle your best at 195?
A: I feel like most of those guys who wrestle 195 have always been big guys, so they’ve wrestled like big guys. My practice partner is Hudson Stewart, so he’s been a lower-weight guy, and I, at one point, was more like a mid-level guy in terms of weight. I wrestled more like them, as opposed to wrestling like a big guy. And I had more endurance and I was stronger than what I would have been if I was cutting weight.
Q: How much did Hudson help you despite him missing the majority of the season with a broken hand?
A: He had an injury during the fall, but for a couple of months there, me and him were going at it every day. He prepared me for the season; he just wasn’t there during the season.
Q: Is there a particular match that stood out to you during the season?
A: I think when I won that LCA tournament, I realized that I had a really good shot at winning the state title. Even though I beat a guy [Staunton River’s Travis Barnette] in the finals — it was like my third time beating him (Dolph beat Barnette by major decision in the finals of the River Rumble, Turner Ashby Holiday Tournament and LCA Invitational) — the LCA tournament is one of the tougher tournaments, if not the toughest tournament, we go to all year.
Q: This Brookville team was loaded with talent, especially. How much did you guys push each other in practice and at meets throughout the season?
A: It was us five (Dolph, Jalen Fyffe, Garrett Good, Quintavius Harris and Bobby Moran) that were really getting it done. Other than me, them four could all go with each other during practice. They always had good practice partners. For two weeks, I went over to Heritage and practiced with Spencer Goolsby, the 220 state champ. I practiced with him a bunch. I practiced with Michael Viar at 170, who’s also a state qualifier, a good bit. All those guys were really pushing each other in the practice room. To see those guys win, especially in the state finals, to see Fyffe win it and then Garrett win it, it really pushed me. I’m the last guy on the team that’s wrestling. I’ve got to win. I’ve got to keep it going.
Q: How special of a moment was it for the three Brookville wrestlers (Dolph, Fyffe and Good) and Goolsby to win a state title, particularly with how strong the friendships were?
A: It was a really, really, really good feeling that we all just did it together. It was crazy. It was me and my friends all doing something that doesn’t get done very often.
Q: What’s the most special moment you’re going to cherish from your time wrestling at Brookville?
A: It’s either going to be the feeling of right after my match after I won in my finals match at states, or a couple of moments in the practice room that really stood out where me and Hudson were pushing each other and coach [Warren] Stewart was there. Every bit of my technique has come from Coach Stewart.
Q: What has been your favorite subject to study at Brookville?
A: I like history. I really like U.S. history.
Q: What is your favorite book?
A: My favorite book of all-time is definitely “The Outsiders.” … I’ve read that one probably four or five times.
Q: What movie have you watched recently?
A: I just watched “Lone Survivor,” and I really liked that movie with Mark Wahlberg.
Q: What has been your favorite pre- or post-match meal?
A: I think my favorite meal was after a tournament when we went out to Scoreboards, and that was probably my favorite meal.
Q: What did you get?
A: I got fried pickles and some wings.
Q: You are attending VMI once you graduate from Brookville. What are your plans there? Hoping to wrestle, in addition to eventually going into the military?
A: I’m going to wrestle for four years under coach [Jim] Gibson, and then I plan on going into the military after.
Q: What do you plan on studying at VMI?
A: I got accepted into the major of psychology.
Q: What would be a message you give to the younger wrestlers at Brookville?
A: Just to trust Coach Stewart’s process and stay in the room.
Damien Sordelett covers Liberty University athletics and local golf for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5550.