HUNTINGTON - After fashioning an All-Ohio career at Martins Ferry, Clay Tucker is now helping wrestlers at Wheeling Park attain their goals.
Tucker came on board as an assistant coach this season and is enjoying every minute of it.
''It was a little weird at first because I didn't know Sean (Doyle) or Jack (Doyle) that well at all,'' Tucker said during a break in Friday's action at the 66th annual West Virginia High School Wrestling Championships.
Wheeling Park head coach Jack Doyle, left, and assistant coach Clay Tucker provide encouragement during a Friday match.
''But the (Park family) has made the transition great.''
A four-time OVAC champion for the Purple Riders, Tucker was also a standout for four years at Ohio University.
Jack Doyle, who took over for his cousin, Sean, this season, said Tucker has been a welcome addition to the staff.
''Sean was our biggest clinician,'' Jack Doyle said. ''He knew the sport inside and out. So, I needed to find someone to replace him at that level.
''With Clay, he brings an unimaginable knowledge about the sport. And the intensity that he still carries with him is great.''
After graduating from OU, Tucker took a few years away from the sport. Recently, he helped Martins Ferry head coach Scott Roth form the Vertex Wrestling Club in Ferry and also helped Roth a bit on the bench last season.
Now, finishing his Masters in Special Education at OU, Tucker is eager to maintain a presence on the Patriots staff.
''It's just something that comes naturally for me,'' Tucker said. ''As far as wrestling goes, I have a strong passion for the sport.
''When you have that passion, it's easier to coach and easier to teach kids.''
Tucker credits his coaches at Martins Ferry, including former head coach Babe Sidon, for instilling in him various coaching philosophies.
''I knew wrestling would always have some place in my life,'' he said. ''I didn't really think too much about it until I got out of college and took some time off.''
Jack Doyle said Tucker's passion has been a tremendous asset.
''He's just a guy who loves to coach,'' he said. ''He just loves to be a part of the sport.''
Making an Impression
Zach Basich, Kyle Bauer and Domenic Prezzia are all making impacts this season collegiately.
Prezzia is competing for the Mountaineers in the rugged Big 12 Conference.
Starting at 165-pounds for the Mountaineers (1-9 overall, 0-3 Big 12), Prezzia stands at 5-9, with a 2-3 mark in duals. He sported a 17-8 record last season.
At St. Clairsville, Prezzia was a four-time state qualifier and finished second once.
Basich, a senior, will take the mat today as the United States Naval Academy visits Army at 4 p.m.
A Wheeling Central graduate, Basich sports a 10-7 record this season. It's his second straight 10-victory campaign.
Four of Basich's victories came in the Navy Classic. He won the 149-pound crown with a 4-3 decision of Kent State's Nicholas Carr.
Basich won the West Virginia Class AA-A championship in 2008.
Bauer, a Wheeling Park graduate, is a sophomore for the Golden Flashes at 133 and 141 pounds.
This season, he placed fifth at the Michigan State Open with a 5-2 mark, including two pins. Also, he advanced to the quarterfinals of the ASICS University Nationals. He sports a 13-13 mark as Kent State prepares for the Mid-American Conference championships.
Bauer finished his prep career with back-to-back state championships, including a perfect record his senior year.
Quest for Perfection
Eight wrestlers remain on track to finish the season undefeated.
Two of them are from Greenbrier West. Tyler Parker is 42-0 heading into tonight's championship matches, while Malik Boatwright is 32-0.
Other undefeated wrestlers in Class AA-A include: East Fairmont's Jesse Roman (53-0), Williamstown's Dalton George (32-0) and Grafton's Cody Goff (44-0).
In Class AAA, Parkersburg's Jared Haught is 49-0. George Washington's Jake Smith is 40-0, while Herbert Hoover's Zane Weese is 48-0.