15 area wrestlers make finals
HUNTINGTON – The Mid-Ohio Valley will have 15 wrestlers vying for individual state mat crowns, but there will be no team championship for the area this year.
After day two of the 66th annual West Virginia State wrestling tournament, host Huntington High School and head coach Rob Archer are poised to win the Highlanders’ first crown in Class AAA.
Following Friday night’s action inside the Big Sandy Super Store Arena, four-time defending state champion Parkersburg South was sitting in fourth place with 102 points as first-year head coach Donna Dixon’s squad was looking up at No. 3 Ripley (115.5), No. 2 Parkersburg (136.5) and the Highlanders, who have 10 wrestlers alive and 152.5 points.
Although Parkersburg South will place nine team members in the top six at state, for the first time since 1993 the Patriots will not be represented on the big stage come championship Saturday night.
The Patriots had four chances in Friday night’s semifinals, but Logan Ball (106), Lance Hill (113), Briar Shively (160) and Thomas Hall (285) all suffered setbacks. Hill had the leg of Huntington’s Jordan Allen late in overtime, but the Highlander managed to get out of Hill’s grasp and earn the winning takedown with four seconds left in the extra session to secure the 3-1 triumph. That was the same score Shively lost by to 40-0 Jake Smith of George Washington.
PHS head coach Chris Way watched his squad go 4-2 in the semifinals, but were actually one-upped by Ripley as the Vikings went 5-1.
Big Red Jared Haught, after scoring a 27-12 technical fall versus Point Pleasant’s Brycen Reymond, will get a chance to win his third career state title and conclude his senior year at 50-0. Haught is set to face 54-6 Lewis County sophomore Ryan Carson.
Big Reds’ Austin Spears (106) and Codie Barrows (145) lost in the semifinals, but Haught will be joined in the parade of champions by red and white teammates Trapper Hays (132), Skyler Terrell (138) and 220-pounder Tyler Riddle, who won 3-2 in sudden death overtime when he escaped from the grasp of Huntington’s Nigale Cabell. Riddle, ranked second in the state, will face No. 1 Cullen Ebbert of John Marshall for the title.
Hays got to work early against Steve Hite of Hedgesville and picked up a 13-0 major decision while Terrell cruised to a 15-1 major decision versus Shady Spring’s Nick Farley. Hays’ finals opponent is Kody Kernan of Musselman and Terrell gets Ripley’s Jake Martin, who scored a 5-3 win against Noah Searls of Point Pleasant in the other 138-pound semifinal.
“I was hoping for five in the finals, but we got four,” said coach Way, who also will get state place winners from Nick Johnson (113) and Dylan Richards (160).
“I feel really bad for Sam Phillips and Jason West. They busted their butt in practice all year long. They really deserved more than they got down here this weekend.”
Jake Martin will be joined in the state finals by fellow Vikings Lucas Simpkins (126), Preston Martin (152), Nate Starkey (170), and heavyweight Daryl Hicks, who pinned South’s Thomas Hall in 5:08.
“It’s a good feeling,” Hicks said of getting back to the 285-pound finals where he lost 4-2 as a junior to Bridgeport’s Garrett Stanley. “Every day, including Sunday, I work out and it’s all worth it in the end.”
Hicks will be facing a familiar foe in Morgantown’s Taylor Ortiz.
“I pinned him in the third period at Winner’s Choice,” said Hicks, but quickly added “the past is the past and every match is different.”
The only Viking to suffer a semifinal setback was Greg Medina at 195 and he’ll drop into the consolation round, which is set to begin at 10:45 today.
Starkey shocked Cabell Midland’s Nick Boone 6-4 in overtime and now will face Reno Hill of Point Pleasant. Preston Martin nipped Musselman’s Cody Spinks 3-2 and will try to win a title at 152, but he must get past Seth Cutright of Buckhannon-Upshur. Simpkins handled B-U’s Dakota Linger 5-3 and now faces Winfield’s Bryce Humphreys.
Parkersburg South, which also will have place winners thanks to Braidon Knotts (120), Jordan Quiocho (132), Dylan Alexander (145), Jake Alexander (152) and 195-pounder Matt Dixon, was ahead of fifth place Wheeling Park (88.50) in the team standings.
Wirt County is still the top area program in the Class AA/A team race, but the Tigers’ lone state finalist will be 120-pounder Jon Cain. The Tigers have 74 points and are in fourth place, just ahead of No. 5 North Marion (73) and No. 6 Clay County (71). Greenbrier West has built a 20 point cushion on Independence (115.5-95.5) and East Fairmont checked in at third with 94.5. Williamstown is tied for eighth followed by Keyser and Wahama.
Cain will attempt to defend his 120-pound crown from last year and will do so against 48-0 junior Ryan Elliott of North Marion. Cain advanced to the finals by turning back Braxton County’s A.J. Adkins, 9-0. Jake Linville (138) and Cody Ferguson (145) lost in their bid to reach the state finals, but will be joined as a top six state placer by teammates Hagan Root (132) and Austin Cottrell (152).
Williamstown teammates Dalton George (126) and Jake Tracewell (145) both made the state finals. George, seeking a second career crown, registered his third pin of the tournament as he used just 2:25 to stick Ryan Arnett of North Marion. George will have a familiar foe in the title match as his opponent will be Calhoun County freshman Casey Ritchie, who hopes the third time will be the charm versus George, whom he’s 0-2 against this season. Ritchie made the finals at 126 after securing a 2-0 win against Kyle Mack of Oak Glen.
Tracewell nipped Cameron’s Dillon Blake 4-3 and now faces Fairmont Senior’s Anthony Alvaro, who punched his ticket when he pinned the Tiger Ferguson in 1:01. Yellowjacket 170-pounder David Hastings was denied a finals bid after getting pinned in 1:11 by 42-0 Greenbrier West senior Tyler Parker.
The only other area Class AA/A state semifinal victors were Ritchie County 106-pounder Jacob Monn and Clay County 113-pounder Justin Triplett, who pinned Oak Glen’s Danny Wyke in 49 seconds. The Panther is set to face 44-0 Cody Goff of Grafton. Monn reached the finals by doubling up Roane County’s Riley White, 4-2, and the Rebel must beat Colin Masters of Fairmont Senior to secure his first state title.
Calhoun County’s Cole Ritchie lost his 138-pound semifinal, which also was the case for MOV grapplers Brad Riddle of Ritchie County at 182, Braxton County’s James Accord (132) and Wahama’s Colton Neal (182).
Clay County, the Little Kanawha Conference runner-up to Wirt County, will have top six finishers thanks to Zach Ahart (120), Alex Suite (132), Ricky Ahart (152) and Tyler Stewart (160).
Other area grapplers still alive in the consolation rounds are Roane County’s Cole Moore at 113, Braxton County’s Bryson Dennison at 138, Magnolia 195-pounder Jared Wright and the Wahama trio of Randall Robie (126), Kane Roush (160) and Crandale Neal (170).