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West Virginia Mat Lines

by Jenny Sullivan

Here’s the line for December 12, 2000

Hello again finally! The season is now in full swing, and it looks like everyone from wrestlers to coaches to parents to fans are ready for an exciting ride over the course of the next three months.

I have a little catching up to do, so this edition will just be a season overview, with the next edition focusing on the highlights from the past weekend.

I must admit that I hadn’t taken the time to keep up to date in the off-season, so I spent my Thanksgiving weekend going back and reading the forum submissions from late February clear through November. It took most of the weekend, but it was just what I needed to get me fired up for this season.

It looks as though some big stories are already shaping up this year. Of course defending state champions Oak Glen (AA/A) and Parkersburg South (AAA) look to be in good shape to defend their respective titles, but several teams are ready, willing, and quite possibly able to do everything they can to put a new school atop the leader board come Saturday night at the state tournament.

East Fairmont finished the 2000 state tournament in eighth place. That’s an all-time high for the Bees, who just happen to return the second-highest number of placers (see statistics below) after South. Led by 2-time state champion Matt Miller and six other returning state qualifiers (which may be another school record, but I can’t say for sure), Coach John Geary and his wrestlers have high hopes for the 2001 season. It’s nice to see that East Fairmont is in position to be considered a top team in Region 2. Marion Countians should be as proud of their three high school teams (East Fairmont, Fairmont Senior, and North Marion) as the Wood Countians are of their three teams (Parkersburg, Parkersburg South, and Williamstown). In fact, I think it would be interesting to have a “North-South-East-West” quad featuring North Marion, Parkersburg South, East Fairmont and West Fairmont (as we “old” wrestling fans are used to calling Fairmont Senior). It would be quite an event!

Miller is already being mentioned as a front-runner for the state tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler award. He’ll face stiff competition however, from another Matt – Stevens that is, from Parkersburg High, who is himself a 2-time state champion. Miller has only lost twice in the past two years, and Stevens has never lost to a West Virginia wrestler in his high school career. While the state will be watching both of these wrestlers, there will be other wrestlers who will have outstanding seasons. The state tournament is over two and a half months away, and anything can happen between now and then.

And while we’re on the subject of the state tournament, it will be no great surprise to anyone if the teams from Parkersburg South and Oak Glen take their division titles back home for another year. And while Oak Glen tries to set a new AA/A record for consecutive state titles (five) and South attempts to tie the AAA record (three), the event that fans from both schools are anticipating will come in less than a month, as the two defending champions square off against each other in a dual (January 6) that could give the victor unofficial bragging rights as the “toughest team in the state”. If that team can go on to defend their state title, then it would be as close to official as a team could get to being officially dubbed “the Mountain State’s toughest team.”

Aside from the usual teams that make a name for themselves year-in and year-out, some teams worth mentioning are Nitro and Jefferson in AAA and Independence and Clay County in AA/A. Nitro will rely on the strength of four stellar individuals plus a balance of quality wrestlers to make things even more interesting in Region 3 and the MSAC. Plus they return their entire contingent (seven wrestlers) from last year’s state tournament.

Jefferson returns four state placers and welcomes several talented sophomores. Although it isn’t always easy to make the transition from junior high to high school wrestling, these sophomores could be turning heads for the next three seasons, and don’t be surprised if some of them even turn some heads in Huntington come February.

Speaking of sophomores, last year a group of ten sophomores made the trip to the state tournament along with four of their teammates, and one came home with an individual title. Aaron Barnette won the 171-lb title for Independence and is the top returnee for the Patriots as 13 of those qualifiers return to try and improve on last year’s top five finish. 189-pound junior Josh Moyer came within two points of his own individual title (a 3-1 loss to Oak Glen’s Philip Bellville), and hopes to take home the gold this year.

Clay County had no wrestling program for ten years, and then the program was resurrected for the 1999 season. Improving on their 26th-place finish in 1999, the Panthers just missed making the top ten last year, finishing in 12th place. With the establishment of a junior high and pee wee program, Clay County has rebuilt a program in just two short years. All nine of their state qualifiers return for the 00-01 season, including three state placers in senior Robert Stutler (4th – 135), junior Donnie Peck (4th – 189), and senior Heath Cliver (6th – Hwt).

Surprisingly, no one besides Phanatik compiled too many state tournament statistics, so I’m going to list some below. Hopefully this will give some insight into the upcoming season. There are some special cases to note, however. Parkersburg’s Clayton Samples has not returned to wrestling this year in order to focus on soccer. Ravenswood will be without Adam Schindler (as will Ripley, as far as I know), and all reports are that Wyatt O’Neil will not be wrestling for Cameron.

Top Ten Teams According to Returning Points

Parkersburg South – 130
East Fairmont – 72.5
Nitro – 65.5
Cabell Midland – 65
Huntington – 64
Jefferson – 49.5
Fairmont Senior – 47.5
Parkersburg – 40 (47 with Clayton Samples’ points)
Hedgesville – 40
10. Herbert Hoover – 35

Oak Glen – 175
Williamstown – 98.5
Independence – 88.5
Cameron – 73 (91 with O’Neil’s points, putting them in 3rd place)
Ritchie County – 67
Grafton – 56
Clay County – 53
Ravenswood – 48 (72 with Schindler’s points, putting them in 5th place)
Calhoun County – 47
Wirt County – 39

Teams Returning 100% of Their 2000 State Qualifiers
Nitro – 7
Oak Hill – 2
Preston – 2
Morgantown – 1
Musselman – 1

Clay County – 9
Berkeley Springs – 6
Liberty Raleigh – 4
Madonna – 2
Liberty Harrison – 1

Teams Returning 7 or More Qualifiers

Point Pleasant – 10
Herbert Hoover - 9
Cabell Midland – 7
East Fairmont – 7
Fairmont Senior – 7
Huntington – 7
John Marshall – 7
Nicholas County - 7
Nitro – 7
Parkersburg South – 7
Ripley – 7
University - 7

Independence – 13
Clay County – 9
Grafton – 9
Oak Glen – 9
Calhoun County – 8
Cameron – 7 (6 without O’Neil)
Frankfort - 7

Of course this is just an indication of what each team has returning. Keep in mind that the returning points are not always indicative of the returning talent, as some very talented wrestlers are much tougher than their 2000 state tournament performance indicates.

Several teams have some promising wrestlers who have moved up from junior high and middle school. Some names to look for are Artie Badger (Jefferson), Matt Delligatti (Fairmont Senior), Jamie Dent (Hundred), The Dye twins - Matt and Brandon (Wirt County – Erica’s cousins), J. J. Flint (East Fairmont), Jacob Frerichs (Nitro), Shane Grogg (Parkersburg South), Casey Hughes (Cameron), Brian Humphreys (Wheeling Park), Derrick Knapp (Parkersburg), Bryce Pickens (Parkersburg South), Steve Reynolds (Jefferson), Shane Smith (Williamstown), and Kyle Turnbull (University).

The teams and wrestlers mentioned above are just a portion of what we can look forward to this year. I do not intend to slight any team or wrestler by not mentioning them/him/her. If you have someone whom I should follow this year, please send me an email and I’ll welcome the information. The season is just getting started and everyone has plenty of time to catch my attention!

In the next Mat Lines, we’ll cover the highlights from the first full weekend of wrestling. Best of luck to everyone. Stay healthy and stay focused on those grades! Take care, and I’ll talk to you soon!

Contact Jenny Sullivan at sullivj2@oak.cats.ohiou.edu

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