Well, a person can't be in two places at once, and although I would've like to have gone to the Nitro Invitational, I'm glad I went to the Jackson County Invitational. I got a chance to see Point Pleasant, Ripley, Ravenswood, Ritchie County, Liberty-Raleigh, and Greenbrier West for the first time this year. Each team has some quality talent at several weight classes.
Several wrestlers went into the tournament undefeated and, unfortunately, not all were going to leave the same way. Perhaps the most devastating loss was Point Pleasant's Alex Reed to Williamstown's Ash Wenmoth in the championship finals. The loss was only the second loss for Reed in two years (his other loss, for those of you who are new to this site, was in the state championship 103-lb final last year to Danny Bonasso of Fairmont Senior). If I were giving a Most Outstanding Wrestler Award out, it would have to go to Wenmoth. The kid never stops. He got a takedown (forgive me if it was a reversal - I was pretty into the match) to tie the match with 3 seconds to go. Then he got the overtime takedown to win the match.
In both AAA and A/AA, the 119 and 171 pound weight classes are going to be tough right down to the wire. Several of the state's top wrestlers at these weights were in Ripley Saturday. The 119-lb bracket alone included Jeremy Burris of Point Pleasant, Adam Schindler of Ravenswood, and Jason Hayhurst of Ritchie County, all undefeated; Dennis Blankenship of Greenbrier West, one loss; and Brandon Blake of Independence, three losses. Burris won the title with a 4-0 decision over Hayhurst, but there were some seminfinal matches that were good matches as well, including Burris-Schindler and Hayhurst-Blankenship in the championship round and Blake-Blankenship in the consolation round.
171 included undefeated Jeremy Rickard of Point Pleasant; Jason Ross of Ritchie County, Steve Kinley of Liberty-Raleigh, Keithen Branch of St. Marys, all with one loss apiece; and Anthony Perdue of Independence, three losses. Kinley handed Rickard his first defeat of the year by way of an 8-6 decision with 2 seconds left in the match in their championship final. Rickard didn't have things much easier in the semifinal round, barely beating Ross by a score of 1-0.
Scott Rhodes seems more at ease since transferring from Parkersburg South to Ripley, making it to the 140-lb finals. But it still wasn't enough, as he was no match for defending state champion Josh Craddock.
Seven wrestlers made it through the tournament without tarnishing their records. Beau Hill of Point Pleasant handed Matt Simmons of East Bank his first loss with an 11-2 decision in their 112-lb championship match. Burris, as mentioned earlier, won the 119-pound title. Justin Wince of Ritchie County, Mike Hosaflook of Ripley, William Steele of Roane County, and Luke Salmons of Ravenswood all registered pins in their championship matches. In another battle of undefeated wrestlers, Adam King of Ripley nearly pinned Adam Bryant of Point Pleasant, only to fall short and settle for the 8-3 victory.
I love to see good sportsmanship, and I think Mike Hosaflook showed a lot of class when, after pinning his opponent in the championship round, helped him up, gave him a hug and commended him on a good match. Hats off to you Mike!
Speaking of good sportsmanship, I was sitting near the parents (I'm assuming) of a wrestler who got pinned in a match, although it didn't look like a pin from where I was. He was upset and in his opinion it definitely wasn't a pin. I tried not to eavesdrop, but his dad told him to not blame the loss on the official, to not take it too seriously, and to learn from his mistakes and focus on his next match. What wise, level-headed advice that was!
I want to also commend the announcer(s) at the tournament. I got to the tournament late Friday night, and thanks to fantastic "now wrestling", "on deck", and results announcements, I had my program book totally caught up by the time wrestling resumed on Saturday.
As for other news around the state, the main focus has probably been on Wirt County, who seem to always have a cloud hanging over their heads. Each year they either lose a quality wrestler or wrestlers in one way or another. Now after an unfortunate situation, it looks like a team that was destined for doom has come back into the fold stronger than ever. If Mike Miller and the Drennen brothers return, and if the wrestlers all keep their grades up, it will be good news for Tiger fans and bad news for the rest of the state.
Return to the Mat Lines index
Return to the WV-Mat front page
Updated January 12, 1998