Madonna Claims First Wrestling Title
Cook wins 138 crown; OG’s Hall downs Weir’s Rea
HUNTINGTON — For the first time in school history, Madonna is the West Virginia Class A state wrestling champion. The Blue Dons had their coveted crown clinched prior to the championship finals Saturday night as the 71st annual state tournament came to a close inside Big Sandy Superstore Arena.
With 64.5 points, Madonna, which only qualified four individuals, captured the first championship for a Hancock County team since Oak Glen prevailed in the Class A-AA field in 2009. Last season was the first for the single-A Division as Wirt County came out on top. The Tigers finished second with 52.5 points.
“This is pretty amazing … pretty amazing,” said Madonna first-year coach Jamie Lesho, who was named the Class A Coach of the Year. “To come down here with only four kids and beat two good teams in Wirt County and Greenbrier West, who both qualified nine guys, it shows a lot of heart and dedication on our four kids’ parts. They all got some points for us. They got the job done.
“Hopefully, this will draw some interest from other kids who want to get involved in the sport. We had 10 kids on our team all season. We battled through some adversity and injuries, but the kids stuck with it and this is what happened.”
Aiding the Madonna charge was Garrett Cook who ended up third at 182 after dropping a heartbreaking semifinal. The junior’s final record was 48-5. Hunter Baird was a Region One champion, but he fell short of placing.
The Blue Dons also captured the West Virginia Class A Challenge earlier this season in Ritchie County. They are also the final Hancock County school to win a state wrestling title. Oak Glen has 13 A-AA titles in a row from 1997-2009, while Weir won Class AAA crowns in 1961, 1966 and 1976.
Junior Alec Cook took a step up the podium as he won the 138-pound weight class after finishing second last year. He decisioned Frankfort’s Austin Pumphrey, 8-5.
Cook led 2-1 after one period and pulled a reversal with 1:15 left in the second to take a 4-3 edge. He sandwiched a pair of reversals around an escape in the third to earn the nod.
“This is an awesome feeling. It’s the best feeling in my life,” Cook said after ending Pumphrey’s undefeated streak at 57. “Finishing second last year definitely motivated me to win this year.”
He was named the Class A Wrestler of the Year.
Pumphrey collected a 7-2 decision in the Region One final two weeks ago, something that didn’t sit well with Cook.
“I had to get back in the wrestling room and work on what I did wrong,” he explained. “It worked.”
Cook improved to 48-5 and is 138-20 for his career.
Max Nogay was the last Blue Don to win a state title in 2009 at 160.
Donovan Kirby was not as fortunate, however. The Blue Dons’ junior fell 5-2 to Petersburg’s Jackson Moomau, who had won by technical fall two weeks ago in the Region I finals.
Kirby led 1-0 entering the final two-minute period before giving up an escape and takedown. After earning an escape in the third, Moomau got a late takedown to seal the deal.
“It was a very good weekend for us,” Lesho said. “Alec is very dedicated and wrestled really well this weekend. Donovan came back from being tech-falled to only losing by three. That was a big improvement.”
Kirby ended the season 38-8 and is now 103-39 for his career.
The hype for the Caleb Rea-Peyton Hall championship tilt at 132 certainly lived up to the billing in their fifth meeting of the season.
Hall repeated as state champion with a hard-fought, 3-2, nod over Rea. The Golden Bears sophomore didn’t get the takedown he was looking for early in the bout, but got it in the late in the second to overcome a 1-0 deficit.
“This definitely makes up for the two losses to him,” Hall said of losing in the finals of the OVAC Ron Mauck and Region One tournaments. “Getting takedowns was my goal. I knew I had to win the match on my feet. After the first period I didn’t get the takedown, I knew I had to make up for it later in the match, and I did.”
Oak Glen coach Patrick McGillan was proud of Hall’s effort.
“We knew it was going to be that type of match,” McGillan noted. “Except for the first time they met, all the other matches have been a point or two difference.”
Added Weir coach Tom Taylor: “Both of those kids are outstanding wrestlers. They both wrestled extremely well. It came down to one takedown.
“Congratulations to Peyton and everything he has done.”
Rea becomes Weir’s first four-time state placer.
“We’ve had a lot of three-time placers, but as far as we can figure out, Caleb is the first to do it four times,” Taylor said.
Hall is 45-5 this season and 88-8 in two years. He was selected as the Class AA Wrestler of the Year.
Rea ended his prep career at 162-13, including 42-5 this season.
Moore dropped a controversial 8-7 decision in an ultimate tiebreaker to East Fairmont’s Brock Whorton.
The two were deadlocked at 5 after regulation time and each scored a reversal in the third OT, setting up the winner-take-all as Whorton earned a reversal for the winning points.
Moore finished the season 37-9 and is 93-44 for his career.
Also placing for the Golden Bears was 126-pound freshman Gavin Ray, who lost his first-round bout before battling back through the consolation bracket. He finished sixth with a record of 28-15.
Weir freshman Jordan Brueck completed his magical run with a fifth-place finish at 285. Entered as an alternate, he ended up 24-17.
Oak Glen finished sixth with 58 points.