Madonna in 3rd Place in Class A Wrestling
Weir’s Rea one step closer to state title
HUNTINGTON — Weir’s Caleb Rea has been on a mission all season. The junior took one step closer to that goal Friday night during the 70th annual W.Va. Class A/AA state tournament inside Big Sandy Superstore Arena.
After finishing third the two previous seasons, Rea wasted little time in reaching the state finals at 126 pounds when he pinned Petersburg junior Ethan Swick in a mere 31 seconds.
“It feels good to finally get to where I want to, but my work isn’t quite finished yet,” Rea said after improving to a remarkable 42-1. His lone loss came in an OVAC Tournament championship bout to Parkersburg South’s Luke Martin. However, he avenged that loss shortly after in the Brooke Classic finals.
“Last year I left with a bitter taste in my mouth. I didn’t get to a lot of my goals, but I worked hard over the offseason. Now I’m at a high point in my career.”
Rea will see a familiar face when he looks across the mat in the finals where he will meet East Fairmont’s Brock Whorton, a defending two-time state champion.
However, Rea prevailed 4-2 in overtime in last week’s regional finals.
In addition to Rea, four other Ohio Valley Athletic Conference wrestlers also advanced to the championship finals.
Oak Glen’s duo of freshman Peyton Hall (120) and defending state champion Robert Bozek (138) will go for gold tonight, as will Madonna sophomore Alec Cook (132) and Magnolia senior Caleb Nice (195).
Hall, who became the first freshman to win the prestigious Bierkortte Award in the OVAC Ron Mauck Tournament in January as the Most Outstanding Wrestler, continued his dominating season with a pin of Wirt’s Wyatt Powell. He is 42-3 and will meet a familiar foe in East Fairmont’s Cole Laya in the finals. Laya, a two-time defending state champion, posted a 2-1 decision in week’s regional finals.
Bozek said the pressure has been on him all season, but it hasn’t affected him on the mat.
“Everyone thinks you’ve got to win, but you’ve still got to go out there and wrestle,” Bozek (41-8) said.
Oak Glen’s Ty Logston (106) also placed after losing in the semis.
In the Class A portion, which is new this season, Madonna is in third place behind Wirt County and Greenbrier West.
“That’s exciting,” long-time Madonna coach Ray Pernell said. “It’s good for the kids. It’s good for the program. It’s good for the school.”
Cook punched his ticket with a 14-2 dominance of Keyser’s Bryant Dixon. He is 49-6 and was a state qualifier a year ago.
“Alec won a match here last year and that has really helped him this weekend,” Pernell said. “He’s wrestling really well right now.”
Cook will meet Independence junior Hunter Taylor in the finals.
In addition to Cook, the Blue Dons also have senior Phil Good (152) as a state placer.
“We only brought five kids, so for us to be in (third) place is amazing,” Pernell added. “It just shows that not all of the guys placed, but they all earned us some critical points.”
Good, a returning state runnerup, fell in the semifinals in overtime.
Magnolia’s Nice improved to 43-3 with a pin of Point Pleasant’s Andrew Roach. It was his third pin of the tournament.
Riley Nice (126) also placed for Magnolia.
Tyler Consolidated’s Cory Chipps (285) lost in the semis, but has already placed.