Wow! There's nothing like some good wrestling to put one in the right frame of mind. I was beginning to get a little worried because I had no inspiration for any articles yet this year, but all that has changed in the past twenty-four hours thanks to some great matches I've been able to witness.
I must admit that the Cabell Midland/Parkersburg South match did not live up to my expectations. I thought the score would be a lot closer, and perhaps it could have been had three of Midland's 1999 state qualifiers been in the lineup. Todd Arbes and Glen Bowen were scheduled to wrestle but did not make weight, and Byron Wellman is still shedding his football weight and should be in the starting lineup soon. South, though, was also wrestling without some familiar faces, namely 1999 state runner-up Jeremy Layner and state qualifiers Josh Cross, Josh Van Matre, and Aaron McCartney. McCartney is still nursing an injury, but the other three are working to crack the Patriot starting lineup, if that tells you what type of team South has this year. Honestly, I must say that it's been a while since a South team impressed me so much this early in the season.
According to my records, South's Mike Bosley defeated defending state champion Jared Walters by a 6-2 decision, not by a 10-2 major decision as reported in the results section of this website. Walters is recovering from a broken hand and is still not in top condition, but I certainly don't want to take anything away from Bosley, who looks better than I've ever seen him look. After handing Walters a loss, the Patriot senior garnered two first-period pins against Pennsylvania's Canon McMillan and West Greene, which will put him in good shape to challenge for a placing in next weekend's Ironman Tournament.
Senior Chris Moles was a pleasant surprise for the Patriots this weekend. After winning a forfeit from defending state champion Josh Coffey on Friday night, Moles went on to win both of his matches on Saturday. I believe Coffey was sick Friday night, but when he defaulted, the score was tied 1-1 and he had been penalized twice for stalling, setting the stage for jeers from the unforgiving South fans.
A lot of fans were happy to see South senior Keith Pratt return to the mats. This young man has faced some obstacles over the past couple of years, and it's so good to see that he's overcome them to rejoin his friends on the Patriot squad. Remember the name - it won't be the last you'll hear from him. Another name to remember is that of Cabell Midland freshman Chris Gibbs, who rallied from a 2-0 deficit to beat South sophomore Ryan Metz 5-2. Metz himself looked pretty good on Saturday as he got his first pin in just 33 seconds and then recovered from a 7-1 deficit to stick his second opponent with a pin in the second period.
J. P. Stanley looks poised to make a serious run for an individual title in his senior year. The Knight wrestler is truly enjoyable to watch. Even though his match against John Duncan wasn't close, it was one of my favorite matches of the night simply because it was so interesting to watch his technique. Brother Justin had a good match against South sophomore Matt Bosley, leading by a close 7-5 margin before registering the pin with just 15 seconds left in the second period.
The Stanley brothers make the most of the off-season, traveling to spring and summer tournaments, and their hard work has paid off. South sophomore buddies Chris Daggett and Nathan Pickens also had some off-season success and are off to great starts.
Speaking of Daggett, he and his brother Casey are both 3-0 at this early point in the season. Chris certainly does not look like a first-year high school wrestler as he has won all three of his matches in convincing fashion (tech fall, pin, and major decision). Casey came out of the gate charging Friday night with a 16-second pin and didn't even break a sweat with a 48-second pin in his first match on Saturday. His third win didn't come so easily, as he nearly got pinned in his match against Canon McMillan, but then fought back to take control of the match and cruise to a comfortable 10-5 victory.
Even though Casey wrestles in the 140-pound class, it was his victory that won the match for South against Canon McMillan. Two mats were used in the triangular between South and their two Pennsylvania opponents, with the lower weight classes being wrestled on one mat while the upper weights were wrestled on the other. This left the score tied 30-30 going into Casey's match, which was the final match of the day. When he pulled ahead 10-5, Casey secured a victory for South over the perennial Pennsylvania powerhouse. Just one evening earlier, Chris's technical fall at 160 clinched the victory for South over Cabell Midland. Interestingly enough, if any of you remember the March 12, 1999 edition of Mat Lines, you'll recall that it was older brother Todd's pin that clinched the state championship for South at last year's state tournament.
Perhaps the younger Daggett brothers have a guardian angel smiling down upon them this season. For those of you who didn't check in with this website over the summer and may not have heard the news, the Daggett family suffered a tragic loss this past June when Todd Daggett (1999 AAA third-place finisher at 171) was killed when he was thrown from the back of a pickup truck. Todd was such a pleasant young man to be around, and it still seems so unfair that a young life that had so much potential was taken from us much, much too soon. He will be sadly missed by friends and fans from across the state.
Back to more light-hearted matters, it will be a while before Riverside High School can debut their brand new wrestling team in full, as the Warriors (a consolidation of East Bank and DuPont High Schools) may have some wrestlers who will be a little late getting their required practices in as they played their final football game Saturday in the AAA state championship against the Parkersburg Big Reds. Several wrestling fans were listening to the championship football game during the South meet, and it sounded like it was a great game. Congratulations to wrestlers who played on both teams, and we'll see you soon! Unfortunately for fans from the Parkersburg area, that won't be soon enough as the Big Reds take on cross-town rival South on the 15th of December, which means some of the Big Red wrestlers will still be ineligible to wrestle that match. In my opinion, the two Parkersburg teams are among the state's best this year, and a dual this early in the season isn't going to live up to its potential since the Big Reds will be short-handed.
Fairmont Senior is off to a great 3-0 start, holding Elkins and Preston to just 6 points each, and shutting out Morgantown. If time and weather permit, I hope to see the Polar Bears in action at next weekend's Brooke Classic on Friday and Saturday night, while sandwiching in a trip to the Ritchie County Duals on Saturday morning. Speaking of Ritchie County, word is that they looked pretty tough in a practice with South and could be a solid contender for the AA title this year.
I'm glad to see East Fairmont in the Brooke Tournament. With the success of Matt Miller (1999 AAA 160-lb champion) and a beefed-up schedule, there are good things in store for the Bees' wrestling program. I'm also glad to see Parkersburg South return to the WSAZ tournament (first time since 1993, I believe) and make their debut at the Winners' Choice tournament. I think it will be great for competition at both tournaments.
Congratulations to Jeremy Berry (Mercersburg Acadamy, PA), Matt George (Parkersburg), Joe Heath (Greenbrier East), and Anthony Regalbuto (Hedgesville) for being named among the top eight seniors in their weight classes in the nation in the NHSCA/Asics Senior Rankings.
In closing, I just want to wish everyone the best of luck for the 1999-2000 season. As always, be good sports, stay healthy, work hard, and study hard too! I hope to see all my wrestling friends somewhere along the three-month journey to the state tournament!
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