Class A/AA Tourney Starts Wednesday
HUNTINGTON — History will be made when the 74th annual West Virginia Class A/AA state wrestling tournament starts on Wednesday inside Mountain Health Arena.
Paden City will have a pair of entrants in the two-day event for the first time. The Wildcats started wrestling four years ago.
Twenty-one other grapplers from the northern panhandle will also be making the trip south. They represent six schools.
Oak Glen leads the way with eight state qualifiers, while Cameron has five and Tyler Consolidated four. Magnolia has two, while Madonna and Weir are sending one each.
Wrestling starts at 11 a.m. Wednesday with two rounds of championship bracket action, along with two rounds of consolation matches. On Thursday, championship semifinals and third-round consolation bouts get things going at 10 a.m. The championship finals close out things at 6:30 p.m.
A capsule of each school follows:
Jasup Spragg (126) will be the answer to a trivia question years from now. The junior is the Wildcats first-ever state qualifier with a fourth-place regional finish. He is 16-6.
“Jasup is a true leader. He is a hard worker and has worked to better himself the three years he’ s been on our team,” Paden City head coach Michael Owens said. “He travels to Bruisers Wrestling Club in Benwood during the off-season to become a better wrestler.
“I expect big things from him, not only this year but his senior year, as well.”
Doneven Clark (220) also makes history as he is the first four-year letterman for the Wildcats.
“Doneven came in as a freshman and was a part of our first team,” Owens noted. “He is a hard-nosed kid that can be a technical wrestler or a brawler.”
Clark finished fourth at the regional. He is 15-4.
The Golden Bears are no stranger to the state tournament as they return a trio of qualifiers from last season, with two of those reaching the awards podium.
Senior Kyler O’Connor (195) placed third at 182 last winter and was a qualifier two years ago at 195. He was a Region I champion and is 19-1 this season.
“Kyler has been our most dominant wrestler all season,” Oak Glen head coach Patrick McGillian said. “His size, strength and speed is a lot for any wrestler to handle.”
Junior Clayton Lamb (120) took sixth place last year and is now a three-time state qualifier. He was a regional runnerup and is 17-3.
“Clayton had a good tournament last season as a sophomore,” McGillian said. “I’ve seen a lot of positive changes in his wrestling style this season. He is locked in and looking to get higher on the podium.”
Senior Kaden Lundy (126) placed third at the regional. He was a state qualifier last season and is currently 12-4.
“Kaden had a rough start to the season due to an injury that kept him out for several matches,” McGillian noted. “He worked really hard to get back and is getting better with each match. His biggest strength is his explosiveness and that will help him in Huntington.”
Freshman Logan Davis; sophomore Braxton Dlugopolski (138); junior Ethan Lively (145); and seniors Chase Smith (152) and Dylan Heinrich (170) are the other Golden Bear qualifiers.
Davis was a regional runnerup and will carry a record of 17-2 into the tournament.
“Logan is a very intense wrestler with a great motor. He has a great work ethic everyday in the practice room,” McGillian said. “I look forward to seeing what he can do with his first trip to Huntington.”
Dlugopolski was also a regional runnerup. His record is 13-7.
“Braxton was a state alternate last season after losing in the final seconds of regional tournament,” McGillian recalled. “He was dominant in his first two (regional) matches this year and wrestled a 3-time state champion to a competitive match in the finals. He has a lot of confidence and momentum heading to Huntington.”
Lively is 10-9 after a fourth-place finish at the regionals.
“Ethan has been great in the practice room all season. He has stayed on course and all of his hard work it’s paying off,” McGillian said. “He qualified for the state tournament this season in a hard-fought overtime match.”
Smith was also fourth in the regional. He is 14-7.
“Chase’s strength is his biggest asset on the mat. He keeps matches tight and leaves himself opportunities to win late in matches,” McGillian noted. “I look forward to watching how his style helps him in Huntington.”
Heinrich took third at the regional His record is 16-5.
“Dylan is battle-tested and has already wrestled several of his potential opponents in Huntington,” McGillian pointed out. “He has been a disciplined wrestler on the mat and has provided good leadership to his teammates.”
The Dragons’ qaualifiers include sophomore Isaiah Bryan (106), freshman Ashton Hoge (120), sophomore Payton Neely (132), senior Deacan Carmichael (160) and junior Ian Bush (182).
Bryan is a first-time state qualifier. He placed fourth in regional and is 12-8.
Hoge is also a first-time qualifier. He was also a fourth-placer in the regional. His record is 12-7.
Neely is a two-time state qualifier. He placed second in the regional. He is currently ranked fourth in the state.
Carmichael is also a two-time state qualifier. He placed fourth in the regional and is currently ranked eighth in the state.
Bush is three-time qualifier who was a state runnerup last year at 170. He is a three-time regional champion and an OVAC champion in 2020. His record is 23-0 and ranked first in the state.
The Blue Eagles have a pair of qualifiers in sophomore Lucas Zambotti (113) and senior Jason Beisel (132).
“Lucas was seeded fifth at the regionals, but knocked off the No. 4 wrestler from Cameron 4-0 and then nearly upset the top seed, but ran out of time losing, 7-6,” Magnolia head coach Eric McKeever recalled. “Then for third, he avenged one of his early-season losses by beating Kaden Huffman of Tyler, 5-4.”
Zambotti is 13-4 this season and 42-20 in his career.
“Jason posted an undefeated record heading into the regionals as the No. 2 seed. He met an eventual two-time regional champion from East Fairmont, losing 5-0,” McKeever said. “Jason would win by pin in all three of his other regional matches in the first period.
“Jason has scored over 150 takedowns in his nearly three years of wrestling. He was injured nearly all of his sophomore year and moved to Magnolia hallway through his freshman year.
“This year he has only given up one takedown, which was in his regional semifinal match, which was also the only time he was scored upon without him giving up the free escape point to his opponent.”
Beisel is 14-1 this season and 70-15 in his career.
The Silver Knights are not in the OVAC any more but they have a quartet of state qualifiers
Junior Danny McCune was third in the region. His season record is 15-8, while he has a career record of 52-29.
Freshman Sean Winfrey was a regional runnerup. He is 19-4.
Sophomore Trenton Huffman was also a regional runnerup. He is 21-2 this season and 57-8 in his career.
Freshman Kaden Huffman qualified as fourth in the regional. He is 20-4.
Jordan Brueck is the Red Riders lone qualifier. This is his third trip to Huntington. He previously qualified for the state meet in 2018 as a freshman where he placed fifth at 285. In 2019, he sustained a season-ending injury, but bounced back and qualified again for the state meet as a junior, where he placed fourth at 285.
He was the regional champion.
“Jordan is our hardest working wrestler. He dedicates himself to the sport and constantly works for improvement,” veteran Weir head coach Tom Taylor said. “It has been a joy to coach him over the four years of his high school career. He is an outstanding athlete and student.”
Senior Evan Daniels (170) is the Blue Dons only qualifier. This will be his third trip to Huntington.
Daniels was a regional third-place finisher and is 15-3.