WHEELING - Wrestling isn't primarily a sport of numbers, but it's hard not to ignore Parkersburg South's.
The Patriots entered this week's Wheeling Park Duals as winners of the last three West Virginia Class AAA tournaments, the last two Park Duals, and a remarkable 93 consecutive dual matches.
Make it 94.
Steubenville’s Shawn McGee
battles with Parkersburg South’s
during the finals of the Wheeling Park Duals on Thursday at WesBanco Arena.
Freshman Thomas Hall topped Ryan Wood, 3-0, in a heavyweight bout and South held on for a thrilling 36-30 victory against Steubenville in Thursday evening's championship bout of the 21st annual event at WesBanco Arena.
''It's a team sport and it came down to the last match,'' a relieved South coach Paul Jackson said. ''(Steubenville) has an excellent team and they came out wanting to take it to us and they did.
''Our guys didn't back down and withstood everything they gave. And they withstood everything we gave.
''It was a great match.''
It was the second time in three years the Patriots got the best of Big Red in the championship match. In 2009, South rolled to a 58-12 victory.
This time, it was closer. Much closer.
After the Patriots jumped out to a commanding 33-18 lead with three matches remaining, Big Red rallied.
Charlie Keenan got things started by pinning South sophomore Sam Atkinson in 1:28 to trim the deficit to nine at 33-24.
Next, at 220 pounds, Steubenville's Greg Moray posted another pin - this one in 4:21 - against Evin Sims to make it a 33-30 bout setting up the fantastic finale.
Hall and Wood grappled to a 0-0 deadlock after two periods. Then, early in the third, Hall jumped on top 1-0. It would be all the points he needed to thwart Big Red's upset attempt.
''He has a lot to learn,'' Jackson said of Hall. ''But you know what? You have to love him for going out in a pressure situation like that. If he loses a decision, it's 33-33 and we have to go to the tiebreaker.
''It was a great job. I'm proud of him.''
The loss was the first in 14 dual matches this season for Big Red.
''I think we wrestled a great match,'' Steubenville coach Mike Blackburn said. ''They went ahead, but we stuck together and battled back.
''(South) is a great team. It just shows where we are and how far we've come. It's definitely going to make for an OVAC Tournament that should be pretty fun.''
The OVACs aren't for another three weeks (January 19-21) in the same venue.
Steubenville's Devon Brown gave Big Red an early lead with a 14-6 decision of Logan Ball in the 106-pound bout.
From there, South rattled off four straight victories to take a 21-4 lead.
Steubenville got back into it thanks to Shawn McGhee, who posted a 16-1 victory against Jordan Quiocho in the 145-pound match to bring Big Red to within 12 at 21-9.
Four of the next five matches were decided by pin, with each team splitting victories.
South had four junior varsity wrestlers step up to fill some holes in the lineup. But when the dust cleared, it was the Patriots seniors - Bryce Gainer, Tyler Karcher, David Jeffrey and Steven Brogle - that provided the foundation for the victory.
''You can have great underclassmen, but you have to have great senior leadership and those guys have been giving that.''
In other final-round matches, John Marshall finished ninth with a 39-30 victory against Woodward (Ga.).
Wheeling Park defeated Hopewell, 47-24, to finish 11th and Brooke dropped a 31-28 decision to East Fairmont and finished 18th.