Wrestlers had solid campaigns

Last weekend wasn’t one of the best for Mid-Ohio Valley wrestling programs, but there were still a lot of bright spots at the state tournament.

I took a few minutes the other day to go back and check out how well our Mountain State coaches actually know their wrestling. I have to say, they did well.

Going back and looking at the final rankings for each weight class, I decided to figure out how many weight classes did the coaches actually hit on for state champions in their final predictions. Well, as it turned out, they went 23 of 28.

In fairness, not knowing how the pill would work going into the state tournament in relation to the rankings, I decided to give the coaches a successful call if either of the top two wrestlers in their respective class won a state title.

In Class AAA, either the No. 1 or No. 2-ranked wrestler won a state title in 12 of 14 weight classes. In Class AA/A, the number was 11 of 14.

As far as which state champions had the biggest “upset” victory in their weight class, the Class AAA honor went to Ripley sophomore Jake Martin.

Martin, who shared the big school Most Outstanding Wrestler award with Huntington 145-pounder Justin Arthur, was ranked fourth by the coaches at 138 and wound up defeating fifth-ranked Skyler Terrell of Parkersburg, 12-5.

The biggest “upset” in Class AA/A came when sixth-ranked Brandon Eldridge of Bluefield reached the finals at 160 and then proceeded to knock off No. 3 Marquise Frazier of Greenbrier West, 7-2.

In fact, no one ranked lower than sixth reached the finals. However, a trio of wrestlers who were ranked fifth got to the big stage on Saturday night, although they each finished as state runners-up. Of course, one of them was Terrell and the other two were Ripley’s Lucas Simpkins, who lost 11-5 to No. 2 Bryce Humphreys of Winfield at 126, and fifth-ranked Ryan Carson of Lewis County. Carson had Parkersburg’s Jared Haught on his back for a couple of seconds in the 182-pound finals, but the Big Red rallied for an 11-7 win and his third career mat crown.

One wrestler who I always enjoy watching is Williamstown’s Dalton George. The 126-pounder finished up a stellar 33-0 junior campaign by defeating Calhoun County’s Casey Ritchie in the state finals.

While I knew about the Ritchie boys – Casey’s twin brother Cole took fourth at 138 and they were the Red Devils’ lone state placers – from their middle school wrestling days, it was a lot of fun to watch them in person this season.

Obviously, Casey Ritchie has nothing to hang his head about after going 50-3 as a ninth-grader and losing all three matches to George, but here’s one person who really hopes they are in different weight classes next winter.

Kudos to all the state placers, especially PHS 220-pounder Tyler Riddle, who avenged two 3-1 losses to John Marshall’s Cullen Ebbert to end his senior year with a state crown.

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com