SALEM — Spencer Goolsby flexed and let out a long scream.
It was a yell for the history books.
Wrestling at 220 pounds in one of the final championship bouts of the night at the Class 1, 2 and 3 state championships, the Heritage High senior got revenge on an opponent who defeated him earlier this season, William Byrd’s Zachary Figart, with a dominating 8-3 victory.
With the win, Goolsby became the first state wrestling champion in Heritage history, which spans 44 years.
He’s also just the second-ever state champion from Lynchburg City Schools. E.C. Glass’ Alvin Snead is the other City Schools’ grappler to win a state championship. He won his title in 1987 in the 176 weight class.
“It’s crazy, man,” Goolsby said with a smile after the match. “I’m speechless.”
There was a ton of history to consider Saturday night. Too much to really take in, actually. Available Virginia High School League wrestling records go back more than 70 years. In all that time, no one else from LCS, except Snead, had ever made the league’s list of champions.
After the match, Goolsby held high a gold title belt given to him by his coach, Brandon Stanbery. For the Pioneers senior, the Class 3 title was all about revenge.
He lost to Figart earlier this season in the Bulldog Invitational at Liberty Christian Academy.
“That drove me to insanity,” Goolsby said. “It drove me to work as hard as I could in the practice room every day.”
To say Goolsby was upset by that loss would be an understatement. He thought about Figart, a former state champ, during practices and other wrestling events.
When Goolsby would go to bed at night, he’d have one image in his mind: defeating Figart to become a state champion.
And then this weekend of grappling started. The two advanced through Friday and into the Saturday evening session. Goolsby knew they were destined for a rematch.
For the last few weeks, Goolsby trained with another area wrestler, Brookville’s Isaac Dolph.
“We just went at it,” Goolsby said, adding he also wanted to thank his coaches for the victory.
Dolph (195) was one of three Brookville wrestlers to grab state titles in Class 3 on Saturday.
He was joined at the top of the podium by teammates Jalen Fyffe (113) and Garrett Good (126).
Right before Goolsby took to the mat, Dolph pinned York’s Joshua Evans and let out a lengthy celebration of his own. He capped a perfect season, going 44-0.
“I feel great,” Dolph said. “Everything I worked for in the wrestling room, it all came down to that match. And I think I performed.”
Evans, known for his quickness, earned the first takedown. Dolph got away from his clutches.
“And I was like, ‘OK, I’ve got to be smarter on my feet,’” Dolph said.
In the second period, Dolph sized up Evans and cradled the York wrestler for the win. Then he circled the mat and yelled.
“It all hit me,” he said. “Everything I’ve done, it all hit me right there. And the work was worth it.”
Grappling in the 113 weight class, Fyffe pinned Hidden Valley’s JB Dragovich and capped a 40-0 season with his first career state title.
It was a fitting end to an exceptional winter for Fyffe, who estimated he earned roughly 95% of his wins by pin.
“It just feels surreal,” he said after the championship bout. “I worked so hard for 12 years now and it’s finally coming true.”
The senior thought back to his early days of wrestling as a kid, when his father, Neville, made sure his son stayed busy by practicing his craft.
Sometimes, the youngster would get pummeled. But looking in Fyffe’s eyes Saturday, it was clear all that hard work had paid off. He wore the look of a confident and undefeated state champ.
“I really just want to thank my dad for always telling me, ‘Don’t be afraid to be great. Always be your best,’” Fyffe said. “He used to send me to practices with really tough kids around the area, and I hated going because I’d get beat up. But I think about it now.
“Going to all those practices, even though it was so long ago, it made me a better wrestler.”
Good also earned his first state title, overcoming back-to-back fourth-place finishes in 2018 and 2019. He got revenge, too, defeating two wrestlers he lost to at the state meet the last two seasons. This was Good’s first winter at 126; he moved up from 113.
“I used to be very skinny, very scrawny,” he said. “But I always had technique.
“So I just worked on strength, conditioning and all that.”
He stuck to the basics during his championship bout, he said, just trying out outlast Skyline’s Tyler Davis, and won 6-4.
All four Lynchburg-area wrestlers in the finals (Goolsby, Dolph, Fyffe and Good) won state titles. Also in Class 3, Rustburg’s Gage Bomar won his 106-pound third-place match.
He was joined in third by Staunton River’s Travis Burnette (195) and Heritage’s Gavin Womack (285).
LCA’s Johnny McCann (120) grappled to fourth, Staunton River’s Justin Mutter (126) took fifth and Golden Eagles 138-pound wrestler, James Thompson, took sixth.
In Class 2, Appomattox’s John Martin was runner up at 126, dropping his finals bout to Dan River’s Elijah Moshenek. Fellow Raiders teammate Toby Bryant finished fifth at 160.
New Kent won its second straight team title in Class 3, Poquoson won its third in a row in Class 2 and Grundy won its league-best 23rd state title in Class 1.
By the end of the night, all eyes were on Goolsby, who stalked the mat in anticipation prior to the bout. Minutes later, his celebration screams gave way to a smile that wouldn’t fade.
The state title was a dream come true.
“I’d just pictured myself looking at my family and my coaches,” he said, “and knowing that I’d done everything I could to win that match.”
Photos: VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 03
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 20
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 13
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 01
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 02
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 04
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 05
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 06
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 07
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 08
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 09
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 10
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 11
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 12
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 14
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 15
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 16
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 17
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 18
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 19
VHSL Class 1, 2, and 3 State Wrestling Championships 21
~~ VERTICAL GALLERY: HIDE TITLES, UP FONT SIZE ~~
Ben Cates covers high school sports for The News & Advance. Reach him at (434) 385-5527.