Coach: Losing builds character

Sometimes a coach has to be more than a coach, he has to be a counselor.

That's the role Poquoson's Mike Casey was thrust into Saturday morning when freshman Tanner Tinsley suffered an emotional loss in the 135-pound semifinals of the Group AA state wrestling tournament.

Tinsley was a handful of seconds away from beating Christiansburg's James Linkous when the unthinkable happened.

Up 4-3, Tinsley was called for stalling twice. The second one, with five seconds left, cost Tinsley a point.

In overtime, Linkous shot in for a takedown, ending the match in 12 seconds.

Nearly two hours later, while consolation warmups took place around him, Casey and assistant Adam Feldman quietly talked to Tinsley.

"He's young, a freshman," said Casey. "We tried to explain to him that the way he reacts to this is a defining moment for him, that it takes a tougher wrestler to come back from this. It's a character-builder."

Tinsley came back to pin his opponent in the consolation semis, then won a 6-4 decision over Dallas Manspile of Northside in the third-place match.

This was a day after the Poquoson staff had to tell Cody Silva that the recurrence of his rib injury wouldn't let him continue. Silva defaulted after losing his first-round match at 140 pounds.

"He's sore and a little down, but he's here supporting us today," Casey said Saturday.


York's Josh Phillips said a couple of weeks ago that this wrestling season, he wanted to make a name for himself going into his senior year next winter.

Phillips did just that. He won the 189-pound division in the Region I tournament last week, then placed sixth at state after losing to Kevin Whitmer of Louisa County 5-0.

Phillips won his first-round match, lost in the quarterfinals, then went 2-2 in the consolation bracket to finish his season with a 38-10 record.

"It's been a great season and I've accomplished a lot," he said. "The goal was to place at state."


A week ago, Southampton coach Johnnie McKellar marveled that three of his wrestlers made the state tournament.

Southampton, in its last year of competing in the Bay Rivers District, wrestles a very modest schedule. While many Bay Rivers wrestlers had between 40 and 55 matches going into the state tournament, Southampton's three entries — Deshawn Barner, Calvin Stringfield and Corey Johnson — had wrestled 23, 21 and 19 times.

Barner, the Region I runner-up at 189 pounds, won his first consolation match. He was the only one of the three who won a match at state.

Lynn Burke can be reached at 247-4961 or For more from Burke, read his blog at