HUNTINGTON — It’s back to normal for wrestlers in West Virginia, as far as the 75th annual state tournament is concerned.
Last year, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the start of the regular season was pushed nearly a full month, also meaning that the postseason would be delayed, as well. When the state tournament was held inside Mountain Health Arena, Class A/AA schools competed on on two days, while the Class AAA portion was held the following two days.
Both tournaments will begin tonight with first-round championship bouts in the 14 weight classes, which also remain the same as last winter and years past. The action starts at 6:30 and continues through Saturday night’s finals at 6.
The Patriots will look to cap their magical season with their first Class AAA state title since 2006 as they send 13 individuals to Huntington. Leading that group are eight regional champions.
Region I kingpins included Noah White (fr., 106); Adam Carman (so., 113); Jack Lowe (fr., 126); Nate Shelek (sr., 132); Gabe Carman (sr., 160); Hunter Nixon (sr., 182); Erick Brothers Jr. (jr., 220); and Hunter Means (fr., 285). Runnerups were Bradyn Lucas (jr., 138); Cody Taggart (sr., 145); Quinton Velas (jr., 152); and Jameson Maynard (fr., 170). Taking fourth was Brody Cottrill (fr., 195).
Head coach Brian Leggett said his team is ready to go.
“Physically and mentally, we could not be more prepared. The work is done, we just need to show up and perform like we have all season,” he noted. “I keep reminding the guys that they do not have to do anything special this weekend. Just do what you do, set the pace, always look to score, and winning will take care of itself.”
Shelek, ranked No. 2, won a state title as a freshman, while top-ranked Brothers Jr. will be seeking his third state crown. Shelek has a pair of third-place finishes, as does Nixon who is also No. 2. White is also ranked second, while Adam Carman is fourth, as are Velas and Gabe Carman. Lowe and Lucas are both ranked fifth.
Wheeling Park has already won the Park Duals and the prestigious OVAC Ron Mauck Championships.
Head coach Ryan Asbury has a young but hard-working group of 11 headed to Huntington. Four freshman and a sophomore help make up the state qualifiers.
“Overall, I have been very pleased with the team this season. We are a young team, and with the shortened season last year for both the middle and high schools, over half of our team has never experienced a regular-length high school season,” Asbury noted.
“We finished our regular season with a 20-7 dual meet record, and the kids have really bonded as a team from those matches. The guys are still working hard in practice and battling to get better as we draw in on the most important part of the season,” he continued. “I believe that is a good sign for their chances of success this weekend and moving forward to their next few seasons with John Marshall.
“I believe a few individuals are currently flying under-the-radar at the state level, and have a great shot of finding their way on the podium this weekend as un-ranked individuals. We enjoy being the under-dogs in these tournaments, and can’t wait to step on the mat and prove how hard the boys have worked this season and how much they have improved since some of the matchups early on. It is always an exciting time of the year, and the energy in the room right now is positive heading into the weekend.”
John Marshall’s state qualifiers include Zander Ward (Fr., 106); Kaden Harding (fr. 113); Ethan Cook (jr., 120); Carter Adkins (fr., 126); Carl Cochran (sr., 132); Ryan Ward (jr., 138); Mason Orndorff (sr., 152); Ben McCardle (sr., 170); Klypsan Wallace (fr., 182); Mathieu Wright (jr., 200) and Victor McElwee (so. 285).
Zander Ward, Harding and McCardle are all ranked seventh in the state. Cochran and Wallace are the highest ranked Monarchs at No. 3, while Cook is fourth. Cook is also a two-time placer already in his career.
The Bruins will have three entrants in Region I runnerup Tyler Wise (so., 195). Other qualifiers are Gavin Moore (so., 160) and Joey Clem (so., 285). They both place fourth.
The Dragons have to be considered a pre-tournament favorite in the smallest division. They finished a half-point behind Moorefield last year and have half-a-dozen qualifiers, including Region I champs Ian Bush (sr., 182) and Gunnar Bryan (jr., 285). Bush is also looking for a third straight title and the WVU recruit is top-ranked.
Other qualifiers are Slaton Pettit (fr., 106); Ashton Hoge (so., 126); Peyton Neely (jr., 138) and Adam Angel (sr., 170). Neely, who is ranked third, finished fourth last season while top-ranked Angel was fourth in AAA while competing for Wheeling Park. Pettit and Hoge are both fourth-ranked.
Region I champs Logan Davis (so., 106) and Clayton Lamb (sr., 120) highlight the Golden Bears’ eight-member delegation. Davis was third last year and Lamb finished fifth.
Oak Glen also has entered Hayden Lamb (fr., 113); C.J. Duty (fr., 126); Braxton Dlugopolski (jr., 152); Michael Heath (so., 170); Greg Sauers (fr., 182) and Joey Barganski (jr., 195). Dlugopolski was a fifth-place finisher a year ago.
“This team has battled all season through every obstacle you can think of, including weight class changes, illness, and injuries. They are young but willing to fight every time they step on the mat,” Oak Glen head coach Patrick McGillian said. “The state tournament is difficult, no matter what route you take. I think that we have prepared the right way and hopefully that translates to having several wrestlers on the podium.”
The Silver Knights are led by Trenton Huffman (jr., 160) and Sean Winfrey (so., 182). Huffman finished third last year while Winfrey was sixth.
Also entered are Kaden Huffman (so., 113); Case Landis (sr., 220) and Raustyn Wade (jr., 285).
The Blue Eagles are represented by Lucas Zombotti (jr., 126) and Jordan Davis (jr., 152).
The Red Riders lone qualifier is Alias Pugh (so., 195).
(key: C-regional champion, R-runner-up, T-third place, F-fourth place, number is region:
UPPER BRACKET: C1-Noah White, Wheeling Park, fr., 39-8 vs. F4-Reese Kelley, Parkersburg South, fr., 9-21.
LOWER BRACKET: R4-Nate Volk, Huntington, jr., 23-9 vs. T1-Zander Ward, John Marshall, fr., 35-18.
UPPER BRACKET: C1-Adam Carman, Wheeling Park, soph., 31-7 vs. F3-Mahayla Finley, Princeton, jr., 5-14.
LOWER BRACKET: R1-Kaden Harding, John Marshall, fr., 34-15 vs. T3-Parker Hale, Greenbrier East, fr., 18-13..
UPPER BRACKET: C1-Ethan Cook, John Marshall, jr., 40-9 vs. F2-Tahj Saunders, Hedgesville, soph., 32-21.
UPPER BRACKET: C1-Jack Lowe, Wheeling Park, fr., 33-9 vs. F4-Braycon Hedges, Parkersburg, soph., 19-
19; C4-Jesiah Winters, Huntington, sr., 25-11 vs. F1-Carter Adkins, John Marshall, fr., 29-21.
UPPER BRACKET: C1-Nate Shelek, Wheeling Park, sr., 42-4 vs. F3-Hayden Keffer, Oak Hill, soph., 33-14.
LOWER BRACKET: R1-Carl Cochran, John Marshall, sr., 34-14 vs. T3-Vance Neal, Woodrow Wilson, fr., 35-13.
UPPER BRACKET: C2-Sam Stotler, Spring Mills, jr., 29-10 vs. F1-Ryan Ward, John Marshall, jr., 29-24..
LOWER BRACKET: R1-Bradyn Lucas, Wheeling Park, jr., 38-8 vs. T2-Brandon Worthington, Musselman, soph., 31-15.
LOWER BRACKET: R1-Cody Taggart, Wheeling Park, sr., 37-15 vs. T4-Loralei Smith, Cabell Midland, jr., 16-12.
UPPER BRACKET: C3-Ethan Osborne, Woodrow Wilson, jr., 44-3 vs. F1-Mason Orndorff, John Marshall, sr., 33-22.
LOWER BRACKET: R1-Quinton Velas, Wheeling Park, jr., 38-12 vs. T3-Michael Hamilton, Riverside, sr., 24-15.
UPPER BRACKET: C1-Gabe Carman, Wheeling Park, sr., 46-4 vs. F2-Nico Loeber, Spring Mills, 15-18; C2-Kade Bradbury, Washington, sr., 41-7 vs. F1-Gavin Moore, Brooke, soph., 21-14.
LOWER BRACKET: R1-Jameson Maynard, Wheeling Park, fr., 29-19 vs. R4-Cooper Durst, Ripley, fr., 35-13 vs. T1-Ben McCardle, John Marshall, sr., 35-14.
UPPER BRACKET: C1-Hunter Nixon, Wheeling Park, sr., 41-7 vs. F3-Jotunn Amburgey, South Charleston, fr., 4-16; C3-Elijah Edge, St. Albans, jr., 43-7 vs. F1-Bryce Carnes, Brooke, sr., 23-9.
LOWER BRACKET: R3-Hinkley Carter, Woodrow Wilson, soph., 16-18 vs. T1-Klypsan Wallace, John Marshall, fr., 42-9.
UPPER BRACKET: C2-Parker Bentley, Musselman, sr., 35-3 vs. F1-Brody Cottrill, Wheeling Park, fr., 32-19.
LOWER BRACKET: R1-Tyler Wise, Brooke, soph., 28-9 vs. T2-Garrett Fauble, Washington, soph., 19-20.
UPPER BRACKET: C1-Eric Brothers Jr., Wheeling Park, jr., 40-5 vs. F4-Zac Edwards, Spring Valley, soph., 19-13.
LOWER BRACKET: R4-Gage Ruley, Cabell Midland, soph., 16-13 vs. T1-Mathieu Wright, John Marshall, jr., 31-20.
UPPER BRACKET: C1-Hunter Means, Wheeling Park, fr., 30-17 vs. F3-Nijil Amburgey, South Charleston, sr., 12-7; C3-Jackson Evans, Woodrow Wilson, sr., 40-3 vs. F1-Joey Clem, Brooke, soph., 17-18.
LOWER BRACKET: R3-Colton Naylor, Oak Hill, soph., 24-11 vs. T1-Victor McElwee, John Marshall, soph., 21-20.
UPPER BRACKET: C1-Logan Davis, Oak Glen, soph., 38-0 vs. F4-Blake Henry, Wahama, fr., 11-15.
LOWER BRACKET: R1-Slaton Pettit, Cameron, fr., 39-7 vs. T4-Jacob Merritt, Man, fr., 10-6.
LOWER BRACKET: R1-Hayden Lamb, Oak Glen, fr., 31-16 vs. T3-Seth Snuffer, Independence, soph., 21-6; R3-Jonathan Pauley, Herbert Hoover, sr., 28-15 vs. T1-Kaden Huffman, Tyler Consolidated, soph., 32-7.
UPPER BRACKET: C1-Clayton Lamb, Oak Glen, sr., 9-2 vs. F2-Tyson Pena, Roane County, soph., 20-15.
UPPER BRACKET: C4-Gunner Andrick, Point Pleasant, fr., 40-5 vs. F1-CJ Duty, Oak Glen, fr., 26-17.
LOWER BRACKET: R1-Ashton Hoge, Cameron, soph., 27-12 vs. T4-Logan Borkowski, Williamstown, soph., 18-11; R4-Jett Sampson, Calhoun County, sr., 23-5 vs. T1-Lucas Zombotti, Magnolia, jr., 36-5.
UPPER BRACKET: C3-Moses Gray, Greenbrier West, jr., 29-6 vs. F1-Delbert Van Tassell, Cameron, soph., 24-18.
LOWER BRACKET: R1-Payton Neely, Cameron, jr., 30-8 vs. T2-Eli Evans, South Harrison, sr., 14-7.
UPPER BRACKET: C3-Andrew Rollyson, Herbert Hoover, jr., 34-11 vs. F1-Jordan Davis, Magnolia, jr., 35-15.
LOWER BRACKET: R1-Braxton Dlugopolski, Oak Glen, jr., 34-9 vs. T3-Darren Vaughan, Greenbrier West, soph., 19-15.
LOWER BRACKET: R1-Trenton Huffman, Tyler Consolidated, jr., 32-2 vs. T2-Damian Iman, East Hardy, sr., 21-11.
UPPER BRACKET: C4-Ethan Marcum, Point Pleasant, sr., 29-10 vs. F1-Michael Heath, Oak Glen, soph., 16-22.
LOWER BRACKET: R1-Adam Angel, Cameron, jr., 32-10 vs. T4-Jacob Bowling, Ravenswood, soph., 19-6.
UPPER BRACKET: C1-Ian Bush, Cameron, sr., 36-2 vs. F3-Hunter Cantley, Liberty, jr., 16-11.
LOWER BRACKET: R1-Sean Winfrey, Tyler Consolidated, soph., 27-8 vs. T3-Derrick Hypes, Independence, soph., 26-11; R3-Cole Vandall, Greenbrier West, soph., 34-4 vs. T1-Greg Sauers, Oak Glen, fr., 28-13.
UPPER BRACKET: C2-Colton Moore, Braxton County, sr., 36-3 vs. F1-Alias Pugh, Weir High, soph., 16-14.
LOWER BRACKET: CR2-Nick Barrickman, Elkins, sr., 19-2 vs. T1-Joey Barganski, Oak Glen, jr., 13-8.
LOWER BRACKET: R1-Case Landis, Tyler Consolidated, sr., 12-5 vs. T4-Colby Price, Point Pleasant, sr., 15-1.
UPPER BRACKET: C1-Gunnar Bryan, Cameron, jr., 15-9 vs. F3-Ethan Brown, Greenbrier West, sr., 12-17; C3-Mason Atkinson, Herbert Hoover, sr., 41-4 vs. F1-Raustyn Wade, Tyler Consolidated, jr., 17-11; R2-