Maxx Philpott made his first year on the Glenvar High wrestling team a memorable one as he won the Group 2A heavyweight state championship Saturday at the Salem Civic Center.
Maxx won overtime matches in both the semifinals and finals to earn a spot on the top step Saturday evening. He finished with a record of 43-4, and avenged all four of his losses in rematches against those opponents, proving the old adage that “he who laughs last, laughs best.”
Then again you might say, “he who wins last, sleeps best,” as Maxx was worn out after Saturday’s championship bout. He dined on Japanese food with family before hitting the sack for a well-earned rest.
Maxx opened the tournament with a 4-2 win over Logan Dofflemyer of East Rockingham in the quartefinal round on Friday afternoon. That matched him up with Travis Sisson of James River in Saturday night’s semifinals. Sisson, the defending state champ in Group 2A, beat Maxx in the sub-region final, 3-2.
This one was a war. The match was tied after regulation, and nothing was solved after one sudden death overtime period. In the second overtime each wrestler had 30 seconds to escape from the bottom, and both did so to send it into a third overtime.
Philpott got the choice of up or down for the next extra period and he chose the down position. He was able to stand up, and that ended the match with a 5-4 win and a spot in the final.
“I was exhausted,” he said. “That was the longest match I’d ever been in.”
With the defending champ in the rear view mirror Maxx set his sights on Michel McCowen, who came in at 42-10 as a member of the powerful Grundy High team. McCowen had beaten Maxx in overtime in the Region 2A West semifinals a week prior.
This was another close one, and when regulation ended it was all tied up at 1-1. However, this time Maxx got the jump in the first, sudden death, overtime period by taking McCowen to the mat in 17 seconds. That gave Philpott the undisputed heavyweight belt for Region 2A.
“It was a real thrill,” said Philpott, who ended his season having beaten everyone he wrestled. His other losses were to Leonard Marshall of Chatham, who he pinned in 46 seconds the second time around, and Ben Sowers of Rural Retreat, who he pinned in just 19 seconds to win the Highlander Invitational. Sowers won the Group 1A heavyweight title while Maxx was winning the 2A title on Saturday.
This was Philpott’s first year on the mats for Glenvar. He’s a product of the Glenvar sandlot system, but opted not to wrestle his freshman year. However, this year he decided to return to the room.
“A lot of my friends talked me into it,” he said. “I’m really glad I did. I learned something new every time I wrestled.”
“I knew Maxx had the ability to win a state championship, but I
wasn’t sure how he would handle the atmosphere of his first state
tournament,” said Glenvar coach Stan Malek. “It was special to see him redeem the last one in a big match like the state championship.”
Glenvar teammate Teon Vu placed fifth in the state at 113, pinning Gerardo Garcia-Cruz of Nottoway in 1:23 in the fifth place match. Tanner Speight also participated for Glenvar at 106 as the Highlanders finished 14th as a team. Grundy repeated as team state champion.
“These young men are very coachable and work hard every day,” said Malek. “I wasn’t surprised when two of them placed in the state. Both are great young men and I feel blessed to be able to coach them. I’m glad they will both be returning next season.”
Maxx will now turn his attention back to football, where he was a standout lineman on the Glenvar football team last fall. He started the wrestling season at 280 pounds and finished at 264. At heavyweight, he didn’t have to worry about what to eat as long as he stayed at 285 pounds or under.
“I was wrestling at my natural weight, so I didn’t have to worry about cutting pounds,” he said. “And I had the best coaches. Coach Malek and coach (Josh) Owen are the best coaches anyone could ask for.”
Philpott will receive a ring for his accomplishment, and he has two more years to add to that collection. Football coach Kevin Clifford was on hand to cheer Maxx on, and he might remind Philpott he has two hands.
“I just missed a football ring since I was in the eighth grade when they won the state championship,” he said. “That would be great if I could get one for football, too.”
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