The dual match between Parkersburg South and host Parkersburg may not go down in history as one of the most exciting PHS-South matchups ever, but it did have its share of good wrestling, crowd enthusiasm, and a couple of good old-fashioned brawls, which is what has made this dual historically one of the best in the state.
The two Big Red forfeits at 103 and 112 were hollow victories for South. South's coaches, wrestlers, and fans like to see victories earned the hard way. Most South fans have yet to see 103-pounder Jeremy Layner take to the mat, since his only action has been at last weekend's Ironman Invitational.
Speaking of the Ironman, it was good for South's team. They looked more like the kind of team South's fans are used to watching. Seniors Josh Smith, Jason Johnson, and Tim Wheeler dominated their respective matches from the word go, with Wheeler not even breaking a sweat with his 24-second pin.
Justin Cox and Matt George started off the evening with a good match. George nearly had Cox pinned, but Cox fought off the pin attempt throughout the last half of the first period. The AAA 119-pound class is loaded with talent this year, and it was evidenced by this match.
The next few matches were an exchange of pins between the two teams, although Ronnie Crawford of South surprised Joel Newberry by grabbing the first takedown of their match.
Todd Daggett, still wrestling with a taped wrist, gave South a scare when he got on his back early in his match. However, he managed to turn the tables and earned a hard-fought technical fall in one of the night's more exciting matches.
The match between Josh Dearth and Brandon Williams was a pretty good match (although both wrestlers seemed to have worn each other out near the end of the match), but it wasn't nearly as fierce as the match between Chris Moles and Robbie Ball. I had been thinking earlier that the dual had lacked the rowdy atmosphere that usually comes with the territory, but when these two wrestlers took after each other, things started to heat up. The match started out very physically and didn't let up. By the third period, the crowd was starting to resemble a WWF crowd! And then of course when Ball won the match by one point, the Big Reds and their fans went wild.
It didn't take long for the momentum to switch from one side of the gym to the other though, as Wheeler got his quick pin at 215. By the time the heavyweights stepped on the mat, the crowd was pumped. South fans were hoping for a pin to end the evening, but just as Erik Spriggs worked Joe Bumgarner's shoulders to the mat, time ran out and he had to settle for a decision, giving south a 47-21 win.
If you've ever gone to a match at Parkersburg High School, you're familiar with "the drum". Whenever a Big Red gets an opponent on his back, you'll hear "BOOM boom boom boom BOOM boom boom boom..." coming from a big bass drum in the stands. This time the South fans didn't want to be outdone, so they answered with a pin call of their own. About halfway through the dual, the South fans started a fury of hand clapping every time a Patriot would turn a Big Red on his back.
South fans love their wrestling, and they like to get to the matches early. By the time the JV matches started, I counted 41 fans on the Big Reds' side of the fieldhouse, while the South side was at least 75% full.
If I'm not mistaken, I believe I saw a certain highly-touted AA heavyweight wrestler from a neighboring county in attendance last night.
And while we're on the subject of AA, my apologies to the AA fans for not have much to report yet. I only got to see about 45 minutes of wrestling last Saturday at Ritchie County. I hated to miss the Wirt-Ritchie dual, because it must have been a nail-biter. Ritchie and Wirt are developing quite a wrestling rivalry, so I can imagine the reaction when Justin Wince defeated two-time defending state champ Mike Miller in overtime.
I plan to see the AA Super Quad at Wirt next week, so by next Wednesday look for more information on AA, plus a rundown of the state's top wrestlers in both divisions.
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Updated December 19, 1997