Several wrestlers had good showings at Friday's triangular meet between Huntington, Nicholas County, and host Roane County (DuPont had to cancel). After seeing Huntington and Roane County defeat Nicholas County by rather wide margins, I figured it would be a real showdown when the two teams faced each other, but that wasn't the case. Huntington walked away with eight pins en route to a 55-24 victory.
One of those pins is the kind of win that always makes wrestling the exciting sport it is. Huntington's Shannon Jeffers was behind in his match by something like 10 points, then reversed his opponent and got the pin for the Highlanders.
Roane County's Josh Craddock and William Steele looked great, even though they weren't on the mat long enough for the crowd to get a good look at them. Each scored two pins apiece, with both pins against Huntington coming in under 50 seconds. Speaking of Steele, he's the second "big name" to start the season at 152. If Jason Ward stays at 152, this could be one heck of a matchup.
Mike Stone was also impressive for the Raiders, scoring two pins. And even though Matt Mitchell was overtaken by Ryan Fullen of Huntington, he was very aggressive in his first match. I think Roane will continue to be a strong tournament team again this year.
Like I said, I expected the Huntington/Roane match to be a lot closer, but Huntington kept coming on strong with pin after pin. I missed some of the early matches against Nicholas, but I must say that Craig Morgan was a pleasant surprise. I expected Mike Hennessey to come in and blow everyone away, but Morgan gave him a good match. Then he went on to register a 53-second pin against Roane. His is a name that hasn't been mentioned a lot yet, but I think he could make a name for himself this year.
While we're on the subject of heavyweights, I do think Mike Hennessey will be one of the best in the state this year, and everything that's been stated about him so far is justified. Nicholas' Tony Frame also went 2-0 for the Grizzlies, and could do well this year.
Huntington has a pretty awsome foursome in Ryan Fullen, Paul Brooks, J. C. Chirgwin, and Joe Thorpe. All wrestling one after the other, they'll score a lot a points this year. It's always good to see a wrestler return after being out for any reason. Such is the case with Joe Thorpe. I would love to be able to see him wrestle Eric Frazier of Cabell Midland. Frazier showed a lot of intensity last week, and I'm sure the two are ready for each other. It could be a great matchup.
As a matter of fact, it seems as though Huntington and Cabell Midland's "best" are all at the same weights, so the dual between the two teams should be a barnburner!
On another note, Parkersburg and North Marion start off their seasons Wednesday, ironically facing each other just days after their title game in football. Of course both teams will be short-staffed since the football players don't have the required number of practices in yet, so don't go basing a lot (team-wise) on the results of this dual.
Someone had asked about the status of Keith Pratt. Keith is a sophomore at Parkersburg South, and although currently ineligible, could return at some point.
I was hoping to get a look at some A/AA teams this weekend at the Ritchie County Duals, but I may not make it and will probably have to settle for newspaper accounts and some second hand reports from one of my "sources!"
The season gets into full swing this weekend, so by next week you should see a partial report on the state's top returning wrestlers and at what weights they're starting the season.
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Updated December 9, 1997