As is usually the case at the end of wrestling season, we look forward to next year and what it will bring. In a minute I'll cover what's in store for the 1998-99 season, but I wanted to mention a few things first.
A. J. Monseau of Wheeling Park reached his 100th career victory during the Region 1 tournament. Although the announcer was not permitted to make this announcement, A. J. and his coach were understanding and didn't complain. I meant to recognize his feat earlier but didn't get a chance, so here's a hats off to A. J., not only for his accomplishments (he also placed 3rd in the state in the 145-lb weight class), but for his sportsmanship, both at the regional and state tournaments.
Morgan Sisk of Petersburg also reached his 100th career win this year also, making him only the second wrestler in Petersburg history to achieve this goal. A few weeks prior to the end of the season, Sisk had suffered from a torn cartilage in his knee, yet toughed it out and went on to place second in the state in the 145-lb weight class.
Mike Hosaflook of Ripley (state runner-up at 145) became his school's all-time career win leader this year, surpassing his brother Wil if I'm not mistaken.
I know there are other wrestlers who reached the 100-win mark this year (I know Grafton's Chris Basford did it during the regular season), but I don't have anything official on anyone else. Be sure to let me know of any accomplishments that I can mention in this column.
At the West Virginia State Junior Wrestling Tournament this past weekend I saw something I personally have never seen, although I'm sure it's happened in the past. In the 7 & 8, 50-lb weight class, twins Dustin and Derek Burdette of the Patriot Wrestling Club faced each other in the consolation semifinal round. As if it's not hard enough to try to keep up with who's on the mat at a pee wee tournament, this was impossible. I just waited until they called the match for third and fourth place to see who won. By the way, Dustin went on to take third place while Derek finished fifth.
When I was adding up points from the state tournament I noticed that Garrett O'Neil of Cameron scored enough points on his own to make the AA/A top twenty as a one-man show. He pinned his way through the tournament, scoring 30 points - two more than 20th place Keyser. In fact, O'Neil outscored 17 other teams all on his own.
The talk of the tournament among fans from both divisions was Bryan Moats of Hedgesville (4th at 130). Moats is just a freshmen, and he caught the attention of several fans and more than one coach. Watch out for him over the course of the next three years.
The Fairmont Times-West Virginian had some excellent state tournament coverage, and from the articles I read, I was able to obtain a couple of items of interest to pass along.
North Marion state champions Adam Gorby, Ryan Besedich, and Jason Conaway have been good friends for practically all of their lives, since the trio met at an early age and started wrestling together in first grade. While each wrestler's individual state title was special, it was even more special because the experience was shared with two good friends. Congratulations to the three of you.
This is the second time that Coach Roy Michael's wrestlers have won a state wrestling title just months after the school's football team won a state championship. In the 1977-78 season, Mannington High School won both the state football and state wrestling championships. Correct me if I'm wrong, but Michael is only the second coach to win a state wrestling title in both the AAA and AA/A divisions. Coach Eric Carder took top honors with his Warwood team in 1976, and then in the following year as head coach of first-year school Wheeling Park (a consolidation of Warwood and Triadelphia).
Although North Marion and Oak Glen suffered the greatest point-loss to graduation in their respective divisions (North Marion is losing 105 points to graduation; Oak Glen is losing 82.5 points), it shouldn't hurt them too much, as Oak Glen is STILL in wonderful shape (much to the chagrin of AA/A fans across the state), with the highest number of returning points and the second highest number of returning state qualifiers. North Marion is at a slight numbers disadvantage point-wise, but with seven state qualifiers returning, they can't be overlooked.
Cabell Midland leads the AAA teams with 73.5 returning points - and that's without David LeMaster, who was injured late in the season. Hedgesville should also get a boost from the return of their injured standout Anthony Regalbuto. And according to the 1997 state tournament book, Rob Lamb of Oak Glen should be a senior next year, so look for him to add even more ammunition to the Bears' attack. Lamb didn't wrestle in this year's state tournament, although I'm not sure why. He had a quite capable replacement in Andy Wharton, who finished as the 140-lb runner-up.
Listed below are some statistics on who's got what for next year. Remember that this isn't a true indication of what's going to happen next year, as one has to account for the return of injured wrestlers and the debut of outstanding underclassmen and/or reserve wrestlers who will finally get their chance to make a name for themselves. Some wrestlers with familiar last names who will be entering high school next year are John Duncan (brother of '95 runner-up Jason Duncan of Parkersburg South), Casey Daggett, Mike Muldrew, Roger Kupfer, and Justin Kotson. Also look for another Bonasso, Courtney, and Delligatti to be on the Fairmont Senior roster next year.
The AAA division was loaded with seniors this year, as only four state champions return next year to defend their titles (Mike Thompson will be seeking his second title in AA/A as Shady Spring moves to that division next year), and only 34 of the 84 place-winners return. The same can't be said for AA/A, as ten of the fourteen champions return next year, along with Thompson. 52 place-winners will also be back next year in the AA/A division.
Here are some statistics on teams and their returning wrestlers. (Please feel free to call any errors to my attention.)
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Updated March 12, 1998