SALEM, Va. (WVVA) - Nine grapplers divided among the three Tazewell County schools made the trip to the Salem Civic Center on Monday with the hopes of grabbing gold.
A pair of seniors did just that.
The championships were delayed from last Friday to Monday due to inclement weather -- but it's hard to postpone the inevitable.
Even in a new weight class, 182, Graham's Justin Fritz dominated the competition -- winning each of his three matches by fall to claim a fourth-consecutive state title.
"It's amazing, man. To even get this far at it -- it's really big to me," he said. "I'm glad we're out here, I gave it my all -- and it gave me the best outcome."
The senior needed less than three minutes on the mat, combined, to defeat his opponents. The state final match with Stuarts Draft's Kyle Coffey lasted just 23 seconds.
"Justin's just a sheer athlete and he's worked his hind end off," said Justin's father and coach, Ben Fritz. "With winning four state titles in four different weight classes -- puts him in a -- he's in league of his own right now."
The storybook ending for Tazewell's Josh Herndon started a bit differently than Fritz's.
From uncertain freshman and sophomore campaign, to an alternate as a junior -- Herndon's senior year finishes with a state championship at 285.
The UVA-Wise football commit explained that he had to cut more than 50 pounds just to compete in the region and state tournament.
He did, and all that work paid dividends.
"I got all my strength back and all the overtime conditioning and stuff I put in has just led up to this moment," he said. "I'm just very, very proud of myself."
The win was not only Herndon's first state wrestling championship, but the first state wrestling championship in Tazewell High School history.
"It means everything to me," he added. "Not only did I do this for myself, but I done it for that one reason that nobody else had done it."
"Josh is probably the hardest-working kid we've ever had," head coach Deacon Young said. "In football and in wrestling, of course. I've had harder-working wrestlers, but he'll do anything I say -- never questions. It's 'yes sir' and he'll get up and get moving. There's never any issue with Josh."
Richlands' Chance Rose nearly made it three state championships for Tazewell County wrestlers on Monday.
The sophomore scored early in the 113 championship to take a lead, but fell to Poquoson's James Withrow in the second period, earning a runner-up finish.
The Blue Tornado had two more wrestlers end the year on the podium. Freshman Brenden Phillips wrestled his way back to a third-place finish in 106. Senior Noah Spencer closed out his career with a victory by technical fall in a 132 fifth-place match.
The G-men's remaining two grapplers also earned spots on the podium. Freshman Tristan Hass placed fourth in the 138-pound class. Junior Zach Blevins placed sixth in 195.
In the team competition, Richlands finished eighth (45.5 points), Graham tied for ninth (44.5) and Tazewell tied for 16th (24.0). Poquoson retained the Class 2 team championship with a total of 167.5 points.
A full look at the team and individuals scores from the state meet can be found here.