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The lower weight classes were such that wrestlers like Tommy Stiles (103), James Harris (112), and #5 ranked Mike Davisson (125) cruised through their weight classes. A regional title is great, but the competition will be stiffer in Huntington. The 119 lb. weight class was interesting, as Corey Reed was pinned in the third period after taking a 13-1 lead over Chris Leach. Not bad wrestling on Reed's part, but mistakes are crucial in the post-season, and even more so at the state tournament.
The 130 lb class was O.K., but the action picked it up a bit at 135. Zach Liller (ranked #4) and
Daniel Gilley (ranked #5) fought it out until the end, with Gilley being on top needing three
points to tie with thirty seconds left in the match. Liller eeked out a reversal and prevailed.
The underdogs prevailed at 140 as the number three and four seeds in the tournament met
in the finals. After Ben Godman (ranked #6) pinned Andrew Richards (ranked #3), he went on to
take the title from Derrick White, who earlier upset #5 Philip Kesner. Kesner eventually pinned
Richards in the consolation finals. It appeared to me that Richards may need to improve his conditioning. He will have to suck it up because he has a tough opponent coming up in the quarterfinals round
at Huntington. However, look out for Godman who might be able to place in the top four
if nerves don't get to him first. The 145 pound weight class saw dominating performances from
#2 ranked Morgan Sisk and #3 ranked Jason Seville, who defeated #6 John Maybury. Seville walked away with
the title via an injury default from Sisk in the finals and also walked away with tough luck as he will probably meet
Denny Lebec in the semis at Huntington. He has a good chance to upset Lebec and needs to be mentally prepared to do so.
I've always enjoyed 152, and this year is no exception. Sam Stewart dominated Chris Basford in the finals, even though the score doesn't show it, by letting up and taking down Basford at will. I don't think that Stewart is the better wrestler of the two, but he gets respect and the victory by making Basford wrestle his type of match. Stewart should have Purpura in the semis at Huntington, and if Sam makes Chad wrestle his type of match, he should make it to the finals. Otherwise, I haven't given up on Purpura just yet. Basford's loss put him in a tougher situation, as he will have to face off against Jason Jones in the quarterfinals. I honestly believe that Jones can be beaten (I know that this will probably come back to haunt me), but not if Basford wrestles the same way that he did in the regional final.
Jason Waugh claimed the title at 160, and if his good outing in the finals is any indicator of what he can do in Huntington, he should place in the top four. There was another upset at 171 with #6 Ryan Dingess defeating Josh Kuykendall in the similar fashion that he used earlier in the year in Petersburg: OT criteria. I thought that the first time was a fluke, but I have full respect for Dingess and can only wonder if he can even outdistance his ranking by at least three placings? Kuykendall can still have a shot at the title.
The 189 class had #2 Dan Lahman winning out. After watching the 189 pound class these past two years, I can only yearn for the days of Lahman (Nick), Mike Payne, Cliff Anderson, and A.J. Byrd. There was a comment made to me after the match that I should not compare brothers, but Dan is going to have to deal with it. I'm sure the Giovengo family of Bishop Donahue went through its share of comparisons, and Jason Seville of Berkeley Springs has a whole family honor roll of state champions to live up to (brother Mike Riggleman, Adam Clark, Matt Canady (2x), Dave Clark, and Steve Clark (2x), just to name a few). Brothers are even compared in the Bible, resulting in the first murder in history...maybe that means I should keep my mouth shut.
Another open and shut case was at 215 made it a triple play for Petersburg, as Jake Spicer took the title in the absence of Steve Knotts. Heavyweight was a forgone conclusion with undefeated Jeff Martin taking the title. I think that he will be in a whole new world in Huntington when he meets up with McClung or Salmons. As far as teams go, I was impressed with Frankfort for almost pulling off the team title, but I think that the loss of Steve Knotts was just too much. Nevertheless, the coaching staff did an excellent job in preparing the wrestlers. Petersburg's coaching staff also looked pretty good by getting three champions in the upper weight classes. Berkeley Springs also did well by sending eight out of ten wresters to states and also managing to place third dispite not filling four weight classes. Grafton, of course, gets some respect for winning another regional title, the second in three years. However, I think that the only team that has a chance to crack the top five in the state is Frankfort.
I probably wouldn't have made such a long post, but I've been getting some positive feedback (well, maybe not so positive) and that only encourages me. I welcome all e-mail and I am sorry if I haven't been responding to any messages that have been coming in, but I'm having trouble with my e-mail. Good luck to all of the wresters and I will see you Friday afternoon!!
February 23, 1998
From: Nick Busick
comments: Great job by the Oak Glen staff for the region 1 tourny this weekend. Hey Doc...Weirton sends the first female to the states. LOL Gotcha ya! Good Luck to all the wrestlers, coaches and referees.
February 23, 1998
comments: There were many surprises in the Region III finals.
1. Josh Cross being pinned by Hayhurst in the first period.
2. Mike Miller losing to Justin Wince.
3. Mark Snider being pinned late in the third period to Calhoun's 189
4. Styles being pinned early in the first period.
All the finals matches proved to be very interesting and close. It will be very interesting to see what happens at the State tourney.
February 22, 1998
WV resident and Mercersburg Academy (Pa) student Jeremy Berry (Jeremy_Berry@Mercersburg.edu), (Jeremy_Berry@Mercersburg.edu) coached by WV native Rick Hendrickson, won his second straight Pa. State Prep title (135 lbs.) this weekend in Philadelphia. Jeremy is an honor roll student at Mercersburg, a co-ed college preparatory high school. WE'RE PROUD OF YOU JEREMY, AND THANKS RICK!!! Kick butt at Nationals next weekend!
February 22, 1998
From: Big Dog
comments: Congratulations to everyone involved in putting on a great tournament in Jefferson County. Region II had a very exciting tournament and the people over there did a tremendous job. Good luck to everyone in Huntington next week.
February 22, 1998
comments: I think that cutting a couple of weight class would be good. I think it would get the competion up. I think they should also place the top 8 instead of six. Call the top eight "All-State". This would give more kids a sense of accomplishment if they could be called that. NCAA does it and they use 10 weight class.
February 21, 1998
From: WV Mat Guy
comments: For what its worth, I'd like to see the state tourney brought back to Wheeling, if even for a trial period. The seating capacity for the crowd is more than adequate and the giant Civic center is in much better condition than that in Huntington. We've seen the tremendous results of bringing the Super 6 Football champoinships to Wheeling, why not give the state wrestling tourney a shot? I'm tired of not having a seat in Huntington.
February 20, 1998
comments: Comments: As a Huntington resident, it would be nice to see Marshall University pick wrestling back up. Since joining the MAC, and going division 1, I thought adding wrestling would be a popular choice. However, according to the Herald-Dispatch, Marshall is considering picking up rowing / crew or whatever they call it ! This sport should prove to be extremely popular in the state of W.Va. ! Many good wrestlers have gone on to wrestle in college from this state with more and more quality wrestlers graduating each year. With the State Tournament being held right here in Huntington, you would think Marshall would show some interest in wrestling and our talented W.Va. wrestlers!!!!!!!!!!
As for all the money Marshall has in it's athletic fund , not a dime came from me. I'll spend mine at WVU, OSU, Kent State, Edinboro Pa., Pitt., Appy State or wherever else I need to go to see hometown boys competing.
Updated February 16, 1998