CHRISTIANSBURG — Just as Christiansburg is preparing to defend its Region 3D wrestling title, the Blue Demons got back one of the key contributors to their victory at last year’s regionals.
Senior Garrett Kuchan, who was named the most outstanding wrestler at the 2019 Region 3D tournament, leads a strong Christiansburg contingent this weekend for the 2020 edition of the meet, which is being held at Christiansburg High School.
It’s the first action on the mat for Kuchan since he fractured his left fibula while participating in a workout with teammates on Christmas Day. Early estimates from doctors were that the former state champion wouldn’t even be walking for at least seven to 10 weeks.
Sheer determination by Kuchan got him cleared to compete in just over seven weeks.
“I just took the same approach I take to wrestling and did everything I could to heal up and that’s what got me back,” Kuchan said.
Prior to his injury, Kuchan, who will be attending and wrestling at the Air Force Academy next season, was having a strong senior campaign, which included placing at the prestigious Beast of the East Tournament in Delaware just days before Christmas.
He returned to the mat Friday and picked up right where he left off by registering a fall in 1 minute, 34 seconds against Abingdon’s Yennesaw Smith in the quarterfinals.
“I felt as good as I’ve ever been,” Kuchan said.
Kuchan’s semifinals opponent on Saturday morning is Carroll County’s Jamin Whitaker. Semifinal matches are slated to start at 10 a.m., with finals scheduled to begin upon the completion of semifinal and consolidation rounds.
While Kuchan has already been a part of two state championship teams and won an individual state title in 2018 at 113 pounds, he admits that there was additional motivation to return before the end of his high school career to try to avenge what happened at the conclusion of his junior season in 2019.
Along with falling in the 3A state final at 126 pounds to New Kent’s Domonic Baker by a tight 6-4 decision, Kuchan and the Blue Demons saw their 17-year reign as state champions come to an end as they were dethroned by New Kent inside the Salem Civic Center.
“There is motivation for a lot of the guys. When people pick and grab at us saying we’re not that team anymore,” Kuchan said. “We have the talent to win and I’m confident we will win next week [at state].”
The Demons took a solid first step on Friday, with all 14 of its wrestlers advancing to the semifinals. Christiansburg has 110 points after one day, second-place William Byrd has 78.
Joining Kuchan in the field are teammates and fellow defending regional champs Brandon Crowder (120) and Nathan Warden (182). Also, Kip Nininger who the 132 title last year wrestling for Cave Spring, will be in the field this year competing for the Blue Demons after transferring to Christiansburg over the summer.
Cave Spring, however, will still be represented in the field by a defending regional champion as Mark Daroshefski competes at 152 after winning the 145 final last year.