Favorites Lead At State Wrestling

HUNTINGTON – Projected state champions Huntington in Class AAA and Independence in Class AA/A held the early lead Thursday after the first day of the 67th annual West Virginia state wrestling tournament at Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

In Class AAA, the top program in the Ohio Valley after the opening night was Wheeling Park with 21.5 points. The Patriots stand alone in sixth place and went 7-4 in the opening round. Parkersburg South (28), Parkersburg (27), Cabell Midland (25) and Point Pleasant (22.5) followed the defending state champion Highlanders.

Independence, which finished runner-up last season to current defending state champion Greenbrier West, held a 35-26 edge against North Marion. Oak Glen could have fared better than 7-6, with some close losses, but that effort led to 23.5 points and third place ahead of the Greenbrier West (20), fifth-place Clay County (19) and fellow top 10 squads Calhoun County (18.5), Roane County (18), Keyser (17.5), St. Marys (16) and Wahama (15).

Wheeling Park, likewise, could have had nine victories against two setbacks if not for a pair of narrow 6-5 losses. The first came at 138 where Austin Digiandomenico was nipped by Woodrow Wilson’s Tyler Gilger. Teammate Tommy Ricker, who also was looking for his 20th victory, lost by a single point to Huntington’s Stefan Gibbs.

Dylan Taylor (145), Jonny Davis (152) and 220-pounder Geremy Paige recorded pins for Wheeling Park, which also received victories from Dallas Baciak (120), Jonathan Skeens (126), Eric Banks (160) and 195-pounder Isaiah Meyers. Banks’ victory at least helped make up a little for the tough one-point defeats as the 23-1 senior nipped South Charleston sophomore Fred Crozier, 10-9.

John Marshall, which sent only three wrestlers, emerged with a trio of triumphs thanks to pins from 113-pounder Brandon Bertrand and 220-pounder Cullen Ebbert along with a 15-2 major decision victory by Dylan Hall at 138.

Brooke went 2-4 with victories from 195-pounder Casey Munger, who improved to 17-17, and 285-pounder Preston Wise (34-5). Wise pinned Hurricane’s Mitchell Fitzgerald with eight ticks left in the second period.

Oak Glen got off on the right foot when 106-pounder Ryan Debee scored a 9-1 major decision against Robert C. Byrd’s Mariah Vu. The Eagles sophomore is one of two females competing in the state tournament this year.

Danny Wyke (113), Nick Tice (138) and heavyweight Noah Mills had pins for the Golden Bears, who also had Josh Cornell (126), Avery Flowers (132) and Alex Shuman (152) stay in the championship bracket.

Magnolia won three of its four matches, Cameron went 2-1 and Madonna teammates Phillip Good (132) and Shaine Livada (195) suffered defeats.

Dragons teammates Hunter Haines at 160 and Waylon Miller at 182 each had pins in the second period.

Blue Eagle Caleb Nice improved to 36-1 at 182 after needing 91 seconds to pin Herbert Hoover’s Brody Thomas. Teammates Paden McConaughey (160) and Riley Nice (113) both earned decisions in their first bouts.

Action resumes at 11:30 a.m. today with the championship quarterfinals and the first round of consolations.