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.

HE PLACEDYork'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."

STILL HAPPYA 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

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