WV-Mat, Mat Lines ...

West Virginia Mat Lines

by Jenny Sullivan

Hereís the line for January 7, 2003

Sean Smith remembered his socks.

In fact, the entire Parkersburg South wrestling team remembered. They remembered that each time their team has faced perennial AA/A champion Oak Glen the visiting team has gone home the victor. This year was no different, as the Patriots handed the host Golden Bears a 43-21 decision in the annual meeting of the stateís defending AAA and AA/A champions.

Those who attended last yearís dual (in which Oak Glen won 38-27), probably remember when Coach Shaw of Oak Glen approached the official during the 140-pound match between Southís Smith and Oak Glenís Steve Flowers. Shaw was probably the only person in the Rod Oldham Athletic Center who noticed Smithís socks werenít visible. The official stopped the match and Smith had just two minutes to remedy the situation or be disqualified. Teammate Matt Bosley (who was injured at the time but still sitting with the team) yanked off his shoes and socks and threw the socks to Smith, who with the help of the coaches, made the footwear transition in time. Unfortunately, the unexpected display of teamwork was in vain as Smith fell victim to an 18-3 Flowers technical fall.

This yearís meet might not have been as quirky, but there was plenty of excitement and it was well worth the price of admission. (Iím still questioning whether or not it was worth the $110 speeding ticket I got on the way to the match, but thatís another story!)

The meet started with the 130-pound match where promising South sophomore Shaun Smith met up with Oak Glen freshman Jessie Mahan. Smith started the match conservatively, but became the aggressor about halfway into the first period, securing the first takedown of the day with less that one second to go in the first. Mahan registered an escape in the second, but then Smith began racking up the points with several cradle attempts - the last coming as time ran out Ė to take the 11-1 major decision and put the Patriotsí first points on the scoreboard.

In one of the best matches of the day, senior returning state placer Sean McIntosh of Oak Glen found himself paired with South junior Corey Porter at 135. Porter actually scored the first takedown, but McIntosh quickly answered with a reversal. After two periods of rumbling and tumbling, Porter held a slim 6-5 lead to start the third. He chose to let McIntosh up, and the two fought for control the entire third period. Just when it looked like the match was going into overtime, McIntosh scored the takedown with just two seconds remaining.

Another Oak Glen state placer, Ian Whittington, squared off with another South junior, Sean Smith at 140. Whittington was actually leading the match 5-0 in the second when Smith came alive and scored seven unanswered points against the Golden Bear senior. Not about to give up, Whittington tied the scored 7-7 with a reversal with 52 seconds left in the match. Just like the 135-pound match, the score was tied as time was running out, but Smith scored the winning takedown with just 12.5 seconds left to put his team up 7-3.

Perhaps the most anticipated match of the day had the least amount of action. Senior defending state champion Steve Flowers of Oak Glen faced returning state placer Seth Young, another South junior. The two wrestled a scoreless first period, and by the middle of the third, the only points scored had been escape points, and the match was tied 1-1. For the third match in a row, the score remained tied until just the final seconds of the match as Flowers garnered the winning takedown with 14.5 seconds remaining.

If AAA wrestling fans arenít familiar with the name Codi Norman yet, they might want to sit up and take notice. Norman, along with Aaron Kelley and Chad Porter (two other names to remember), are a talented trio of freshmen South wrestlers who are making a lot of noise as they also make history. This is the first year Parkersburg South has had freshmen on their wrestling team, and wow, what a way to start! Iím not the first to say it, and I wonít be the last - donít be surprised if you see two if not all three of these young men wrestling for state championships at this yearís state tournament.

Norman, fresh off an impressive third place finish at the Brecksville Holiday Tournament, never gave up the lead in his 152-pound match with senior returning state placer Matt Wharton. Norman actually held a four-point advantage late into the third until Wharton registered a reversal with two seconds left to finish the match with an 8-6 Norman win.

Patriot fans who didnít make the trip to Brecksville last week missed the Kyle Walters that they remember from last yearís state tournament. At Brecksville, Walters dominated his opponents en route to the 160-pound championship, grabbing four pins, three of which came in under one minute. However, the win Saturday over junior Garrett Railing didnít come quite so quickly. In a low-scoring match that saw Railing get penalized twice for stalling, Walters walked away with a 4-2 decision.

Patriot senior Bryce Pickens registered the first pin of the day as he put away freshman Rhett Northcraft in the first period of the 171-pound bout.

Oak Glen has a promising freshman of their own in Cody Potts. Potts has had some success in tournaments this year including third place finishes at the Brooke Classic and the Knights Inn Invitational. Although the 11-4 doesnít reflect it, his 189-pound match with junior Curt Radcliff was a good one. Radcliff (who has had to wrestle in the shadow of his brother, 2000 State Champion Clint Radcliff) actually may have brought out the most excitement in the large South contingent as he took several shots against Potts. The score was as close as 6-4 Potts after Potts let Radcliff up in the third, but the slim margin lasted but a few seconds as Potts took his opponent to the mat with 22 seconds left and held him there for the remainder of the match to take the 11-4 victory.

The next two matches clearly belonged to the Golden Bears as senior Bill Whitehill put away senior Wes Young with a pin in the second. With the score 2-1 in Whitehillís favor to begin the second, Young deferred and Whitehill chose down. Whitehill gained the reversal in less than 30 seconds, and that was all she wrote as he put the Patriotís shoulders to the mat just a few seconds later.

South sophomore Josiah Dorton held his own in his varsity debut against Patrick McGillian, fighting off three nearfalls and lasting almost 2 Ĺ periods. However, the talented senior proved to be too much for the young Patriot as McGillian flattened Dorton in the third to give Oak Glen the lead for the first time in the meet. That lead would be short lived though, as the Patriots won the final four matches via pinfall.

Freshman Aaron Kelley, one of the stateís best at 103, captured the quickest pin of the day over sophomore Brandon Miller, taking just 55 seconds to do so.

Junior Felix Osuna Cotto followed suit with a first period pin of his own over 2002 third-place finisher Justin Goneau, a senior.

Freshman Chad Porter took just a little longer to cash in, as he built up a 7-1 lead over junior T. J. Glass before registering the pin with a mere 0.9 showing on the clock.

Patriot captain and senior Shane Grogg displayed late season form as he built up a commanding 16-4 lead over junior Shane Wright before securing the pin in exactly five minutes.

Grogg and the two Porter cousins are the second-generation members of the famous Porter wrestling clan folks remember from the 80ís. Corey is the son of Eddie and Cindy Porter, Chad is the son of Gary and Tammy Porter, and Shane is the son of sister Kelly and husband Pat Grogg.

Although the Porters are related, the other South wrestlers sharing last names, such as Wes and Seth Young, and Sean and Shaun Smith are not. Itís bad enough to have wrestlers with the same last name, but Coach McCartney admitted that it gets a little confusing having two wrestlers with both first AND last names the same. He says he differentiates between the two Smith boys by calling Sean Smith ďSeenĒ.

Although Oak Glen lost the match by 12 points, donít go writing off the Bearsí chances for an unprecedented seventh AA/A state championship. They have tremendous depth come tournament time, and they demonstrated that depth in late December with a win at the Knights Inn Invitational, taking the team title without crowning a single champion.

And just because South won in convincing fashion, donít be too quick to hand them their fifth straight AAA title. The Patriots face some tough tests in January, including a first round matchup with the nationís #3 team, Nazareth of Pennsylvania, at next weekendís Virginia Duals. And then on January 22 the Patriots, who are ranked #2 in West Virginia, will face crosstown rival and top-ranked Parkersburg to determine bragging rights not only citywide, but statewide as well.

I was happy to see my friend Bob Wilson Saturday. Wilson, who had served as an assistant coach at John Marshall for the past few years, now teaches at the John D. Rockefeller IV Career Center in Hancock County and is a first-year assistant to Coach Shaw, whom Iím sure is happy to have Coach Wilson on board.

And finally, I have to give credit where credit is due. Former South state champion John Duncan predicted a final score that was pretty close to what the actual outcome was. Naturally I scoffed as I was (as were a lot of people in the state) expecting a much closer score.

Well, next weekend I have my annual January diversion from wrestling as I work at the West Virginia Association of Fairs and Festivals Convention in Charleston. Fortunately, this is the first year that I can ever remember the convention not falling on the same weekend as the Winnerís Choice, so weather permitting, Iím looking forward to heading to Fairmont in a couple of weeks to see some of the stateís finest wrestlers go head to head in one of the stateís finest tournaments. Speaking of fine tournaments, who knows, maybe I just might sneak away from the convention and head down I-64 to Nitro this Saturday and check out some of the action at the Nitro Invitational. Iíd just better not try to get there too quickly. I canít afford another speeding ticket!

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