West Virginia Wrestling
Junior High Report

by Brent Sams




Riverside's 165 pounder is E. Cochran, not J.Cochran. The "E" is for Eddie Cochran who does have a twin brother. This is Eddie's first year of wrestling. I did not catch his brother's name.

Don't hesitate to correct me on records and tournament placing. Thanks to Diane Snuffer and Eddie Cochran for the above corrections. I might have to come up with a bogus award for top watch dog of the year. Also thanks to the many readers who reminded me that Barboursville did not participate in the Ohio-West Virginia Super Duals. My notes got crossed up and I will correct the Who's Who list soon.


The Jr. High season officially ended last weekend yet most teams finished-up with their conference tournament three weeks ago. Harpers Ferry finished an outstanding season with a dual record of 40-0. Is this a state record' I don't know that such records are kept anywhere. It isn't the first time a Mountain State team has finished undefeated but 40 dual wins is quite a feat, especially when you consider it wasn't just local wins but encompassed most of the states best teams.

McKinley Jr. High has had two recent undefeated seasons and have won their league crown for seven straight seasons. Usually, dominant teams run in cycles of two years for Middle Schools or three years for Jr. Highs. Exceptional schools will stretch that for a year or two. For McKinley to accomplish it seven years in a row is quite special.

Edison Jr. High has had two bitter-sweet seasons recently. The 1998-99 and the 1999-00 seasons saw them win their eighth and ninth straight Wood County Regular Season Titles, only to lose in the County Tournament. In those nine years, they lost only two dual matches, in 1996 to their friendly rival Blennerhassett, and in 1999, again to Blennerhassett. Their 1996 defeat broke a string of 125 straight victories. Their regular season records during that five year span stand at 36-0, 1991-92; 31-0, 1992-93; 25-0, 1993-94; 28-0, 1994-95 and 5-0 in 1995-96 before their loss. The 1995-96 season is believed to have finished in a three-way tie between Jackson, Edison and Blennerhassett.

Edison's season records may be a bit distorted. Their wins are "all wins" not just dual victories. For instance, if there were eight participants in the County Tournament, they would count the tournament victory as seven wins. The question comes up, "Do teams beaten in a tournament count towards season record?" This minor argument has been ongoing ever since I can remember. I am indifferent on the subject. If push comes to shove, I think a team should keep the two separate yet maintain both, a duals record and an overall season record.

Taking Blennerhassett's 1999-00 schedule, they would be 14-1 in duals and 82-1 overall with their victories at the WSAZ and Wood County Tournaments. Using this theory, anyone with a high finish at the large WSAZ Tournament would have impressive records. McKinley, with their two undefeated seasons and WSAZ Titles would probably have two of the best season records in the state. Independence is probably another school that could qualify for season best record with their 1999 WSAZ win. This is to take nothing away from Harpers Ferry season. Their 40-0 duals record is probably the best ever single season duals record in the state. I am unaware of any teams dominating their areas for such a long stretch as McKinley and Edison has. The early Wood County teams from the 1970s had shorten seasons which started in November and finished up before Christmas. Jackson Jr. High and Franklin Jr. High were two dominating teams during this time, but the lack of competing teams and short seasons would keep their records minimal.

I think for posterity sakes, I should include a Team Who's Who list with the individual Who's Who listing. We can separate the Jr. High, Middle School and Freshmen Teams. I'll set a deadline of March 6th for the team records to reach me. Thanks to Malcolm Ater, Rick Comer, Bob Moore and Bob Miller for contributing to the above.


On February 11, 1922, the first West Virginia High School Wrestling matched occurred when Parkersburg High School met Morgantown High School in Morgantown. After seventy-eight years, one of the participants of that match, Ross McHenry, is still living today. As far as I know, at 96.5 years of age, McHenry is the oldest living High School Wrestler in West Virginia.

Ross McHenry was the last, four-year letter winner in football at West Virginia University before the freshman eligibility rule was enforced in the mid-twenties and not lifted until the latter part of this century. McHenry coached football at Parkersburg High School and had an assistant named Floyd Schwartzwalder, who later became the legendary football coach at Syracuse University. Coach Schwartzwalder is a Huntington native who wrestled for Huntington High in the late twenties and was declared a State Champion based on regular season record. He also wrestled for WVU in the early thirties. Coach Schwartzwalder was instrumental in keeping High School Wrestling going in the 1930s as he refereed and coached throughout the decade. Schwartzwalder coached Weston to the West Virginia State Title in 1933 and later challenged the Virginia State Champions to a dual in Winchester. After beating the Virginia team, the opposing coach challenged Schwartzwalder to a grudge match, which Schwartzwalder won.

McHenry still stays in contact with the Schwartzwalder family and keeps an active membership at the YMCA where he works out three to four days a week. "I can't lift the heavy weights like the younger fellows do, but I still do my share of the lifting." Coach McHenry told me. Last spring. I had the chance to sit down and chat with Coach McHenry and got his reflections on the first wrestling match.

"Wrestling was a vigor event. It was epidemic, like small pox going around that everyone was catching. Professional Wrestling's popularity was so great that it carried over into the High School and that is how High School Wrestling started in Parkersburg." "Bull Montana, out of Massillon, Ohio, was the Heavyweight Champion then. Everyone loved to go to the matches at the Armory on 7th Street. The local professionals worked out there and they would pull people off the streets for their workouts. Roland Hobensack was one person who started out with the professionals when he was a teenager and he was the reason the team started at Parkersburg. Hoby was actually from Belpre, Ohio but they didn't have sports so the West Virginia State Board gave permission for Hoby to play football at Parkersburg."

"Hoby and Wookey from Huntington were the best wrestlers in the State and they use to wrestle during half-time at the basketball games and the crowd would really get into their bouts."

"Frank Bickel was a Parkersburg graduate who was attending college at West Virginia University. He was the one who helped set up the match against Morgantown. We took the 2:10 #11 B&O train to Clarksburg. From Clarksburg, we had to walk a mile and then catch the 5:30 Street Car that took us to Fairmont. From Fairmont, we then took a bus to Morgantown and stayed at Bickel's fraternity's house. If you missed one of these connections, it would take over twelve hours to get to Morgantown. We had to really pick up the pace walking the mile in Clarksburg to catch the Street Car."

"Our uniforms were just the typical gym outfit for the time. Gym shorts, tank top and canvas shoes. Hoby may have been the only one with tights because of his association with the professional wrestlers, but I can't really remember. I wrestled heavyweight but only weighed 175 pounds. Morgantown's heavyweight was more typical of a heavyweight and probably outweighed me by 25 pounds. I was strong and was able to crawl off the mat. In those days, if the wrestlers went out of bounds, they would restart in the neutral position. That strategy allowed me to wear out my larger opponent and won the decision and team victory for Parkersburg."

Since Ross McHenry helped introduce this state to High School Wrestling, I thought it would be appropriate that he help lead it out of the 20th century and into the next. I have submitted Coach McHenry's name to be the Grand Marshall at this year's Parade of Champions. His name has been accepted but unfortunately his health will not allow him to travel. I know that Coach McHenry would really appreciate the pageantry and festivities surrounding the finalists. At 96 years of age, he hasn't given up and is fighting to the end. That's what champions are made of.

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