LKC witnesses pair of state champions

HUNTINGTON – The Little Kanawha Conference only had a pair of state champions Saturday night in the Class AA/A portion of the 66th annual West Virginia state wrestling tournament.

Those titles came thanks to Ritchie County 106-pounder Jacob Monn and Williamstown 126-pounder Dalton George, who secured his second career crown. The last time the LKC only had two state champions was back in 2006 when Williamstown’s Ryan Flowers won at 135 and Ravenswood’s David Dennis topped the field at 119.

Monn, who never trailed in posting a 7-3 victory against Fairmont Senior’s Colin Masters, finished his campaign at 50-4. He became the first Rebel to win a state title since 1999 when Jason Hayhurst (125) and Justin Wince (130) pulled off the feat.

“It means the world,” said the sophomore Monn. “I lost my mom a few years back. She knew I had it in me. Thanks to her for getting me here. Without her, I don’t think I’d been here.

“Coach (Alan Davis) had a lot of confidence in me. I don’t know what to say. It was just a heckuva season.”

Monn was quick to give plenty of praise to not only his coaches, but also to his Rebel teammates. The hardest part for Monn when it came to winning his title was probably having to wait around all day for the match.

“I was nervous and felt like I was under a lot of pressure,” Monn added. “I didn’t feel too good coming in today, but it came out amazing.

“I had a feeling it was going to happen. I put all that work into it and I was ready for it. It’s amazing. I have an amazing team and they supported me the whole way.”

While Monn was making his first state finals appearance, the veteran George was in his third straight. The junior Yellowjacket, who won at 103 as a freshman and took runner-up honors last year at 113, capped a 33-0 season by defeating Calhoun County freshman Casey Ritchie, 6-5.

Ritchie, who finished 50-3, did get a shot in on George’s leg and secured the first takedown of the match, but for the third time this season the Red Devil came out on the wrong end of the match against George.

“He had nothing to lose and he came out attacking me. He was fired up and I was ready,” George stated. “I kind of got caught standing on my heels and he got an ankle and took the takedown, but hard work, man. I was able to battle back through that one.”

Indeed, George did exactly that as his previous finals experiences paid off. He held Ritchie down the entire second period and took the lead for good on a reversal just 14 seconds into the third, which George followed with a pair of near fall points.

“He had my leg up in the air when I was going to get that reversal and I just did a cutback,” George explained. “I practice it every day. I’ve probably did it a thousand times in my life and I’ll tell you what, practicing moves over and over really pays off.

“(Working out in the) offseason, offseason, that’s all it is. That’s why I know I’m the wrestler I am today. I give a lot of credit to my brother (Tyler). He’s always right there by my side telling me what to do and getting me ready.”

Despite trailing 6-2, Ritchie didn’t give up. He was awarded a point for a technical violation and then got a reversal to cut the deficit to one with 10 seconds left, but was unable to turn George in the waning seconds.

“I just didn’t have an arm in there. It was a mental mistake,” George added of the penalty point. “I was a little excited, you know. I was going crazy putting someone on their back in the state finals.

“I was up three points and gave up the reversal, that’s two, and I knew I’d hold on. The last match of the season I’m going to take it, no matter if it’s an inch or a mile. It’s a win, right? A state title is a state title.”