West Virginia Mat Lines
by Jenny Sullivan
Here's the line for January 19, 2005
Neither rain, nor sleet, nor snow?..
No, it's not a modified version of the US Postal Service motto. Rather,
it's the mantra of thousands of screaming fans who packed Parkersburg
South's Rod Oldham Athletic Center Wednesday night for the annual wrestling
dual between Parkersburg High and Parkersburg South.
The first real Mid-Ohio Valley snow storm of the wrestling season might
have closed schools in Wood County for the day, but it didn't deter the
avid fans who braved the elements to watch their beloved wrestlers battle
it out for city bragging rights.
The hype surrounding the match had been unbelievable. People had begun
talking about the dual on the WV-Mat forum weeks ago. I even left work
early to make sure I got a decent parking spot. When I arrived at 5:20
p.m., the parking lot was nearly full, and the varsity matches weren't
slated to start for another hour and a half! I would later observe that by
the time the match was in full swing, the standing room only crowd had
blocked the aisles and spilled onto the hardwood.
The first thing I saw when I approached the press table was an example of
the dark humor of someone at Parkersburg South. There were two pieces of
paper taped to the table reading "Reserved for Parkersburg News", and one
piece reading "Reserved for Judge Hill". Just in case you've been hiding
under a rock lately (or perhaps golfing in Myrtle Beach), Judge Hill is the
judge who overturned the WVSSAC's ruling that Parkersburg High wrestler
Jake Hays was ineligible to wrestle a fifth year. (Hays wrestled two years
as a freshman at Jackson Junior High and is now wrestling in his third year
Besides getting a decent parking space, arriving to the match early has
other advantages. I got to watch several of the fans arrive, among them
former wrestlers from both sides of the river. I know some former
wrestlers actually made the drive from Morgantown just for the match. This
dual meet is also like a homecoming, and rivalry aside, there were several
fans from the opposing two teams greeting each other and talking and
After six junior varsity matches that saw the Big Reds come out on top
15-12, and then a gorgeous rendition of the Star Spangled Banner by a
Parkersburg South choral group, it was now time to get down to business.
The starting lineups were announced, with no real surprises. At 140,
South's Aaron Kelley was to face either Casey Ice or Brandon Rader. I made
the remark to Jay Bennett of the Parkersburg News that I bet Rader would
end up wrestling Shaun Smith at 145 instead. Jay didn't listen to me?.
The match started as it did one year ago - at the 275-pound weight class.
Josiah Dorton of South wrestled very conservatively against Big Red foe
Zach Nolan. The two danced around in the first period with neither
wrestler taking many shots. As it looked like Dorton was going to have to
make his second-period escape the only score of the match, he took Nolan
down with 1.7 seconds left on the clock to walk away with a 3-0 decision.
Forfeit victories for South's Corey Matheny (103) and Hueston Kellar (112)
gave the Patriots an uneventful 15-0 lead going into the fourth match of
Travis Townsend, South's 119-pounder, got things started with a quick
takedown against Kyle McPeek, but slowed things down after that, so much
that he got called for stalling twice in the match. McPeek found himself
down 7-1 part way through the third period, but a takedown, reversal, and
penalty point brought him to within 9-6, although it wasn't enough, and
Townsend upped the Patriot's margin to 18-0.
Once again the stage was set for the classic Jake Hays/Zac McCray matchup.
Last year's match ended in an overtime victory for McCray. This year's
match appeared to be headed the same way. After two periods there was
still no score in the match. The wrestlers had tied up a couple of times
in the first, and then the Southside crowd started venting their
frustration at Hays, whom they felt was riding McCray's hips and not
working toward anything else. Their pleas were finally answered with 11
seconds to go in the second, when the official hit Hays for stalling. Hays
chose down to begin the third, and got the much-needed escape. Again, the
South crowd felt like another stalling penalty should be called on Hays,
which would tie the match. But the official didn't see it the same way,
and the match ended with a 1-0 victory for Hays.
Josh Neal, a Big Red wrestler facing eligibility issues of his own, didn't
let the distractions get to him in his 3-2 win over Patriot Matt Dunn.
Neal, a two-time AA/A state champion transfer from Shady Spring appeared as
though he'd win the match 3-0, until Dunn got a reversal with 18 seconds
left in the match. Dunn tried to tilt Neal's shoulders, but it wasn't
enough, and Neal held on for the slim 3-2 victory.
Using the same wrist tie-up that Neal used in the prior match, the Big
Reds' Josh Bailey held South's Nathan Hall powerless in a 6-0 decision.
At this point in the evening, the fans hadn't been treated to any
excitement. No pins, lots of stalling on both sides (in my opinion), and
no real aggressiveness. That old '60's song "Build Me Up, Buttercup"
sprang into my head. To paraphrase the song, the singer is asking his girl
why she builds him up just to let him down. That's how I was feeling about
this match that had been hyped for so long. It had been a bit of a letdown
But all was about to change. At the beginning of the 140-pound match,
announcer Ken Davis was waiting to announce who was wrestling for
Parkersburg, when Big Red Head Coach Scheny Schenerlein (amidst a barrage
of boos from the South crowd) was literally looking back and forth between
Casey Ice and Brandon Rader, trying to decide who to put in the match
against South's Aaron Kelley. You could almost see and hear the wheels
turning in Scheny's head. And just like a Vegas roulette wheel, Scheny's
big gamble paid off not only in the 140-pound match, but for the rest of
the night, as he decided to send in Ice and save Rader for the next match.
The match between Ice and Kelley was a battle between ailing wrestlers, as
Kelley is nursing a bad knee that has Coach Tim McCartney very concerned,
and Ice is having back problems. Kelley actually came out on fire with an
8-second takedown, sparking the first real reaction from the South crowd
all night. But the injury seemed to get the best of Kelley, who took two
or three injury timeouts, allowing Ice to rally for a 6-3 victory.
And then the stage was set for the first marquee match of the night. At
approximately 8:10 p.m., a rumble must have been felt throughout all of
South Parkersburg as the Rod Oldham Athletic Center came alive like I've
never seen before. Two state champions were going to battle it out as
Brandon Rader, a three-time defending state champion and PHS' normal
135-pounder moved up two weight classes to meet South defending state
champion Shaun Smith. Smith actually shot for an ankle first, and appeared
to have a takedown at the edge of the mat, but Rader skillfully
repositioned before the official could make the call and the two went out
of bounds. After choosing down in the second, Rader quickly reversed Smith
and then took him to his back for a two-point nearfall before Smith got out
of the predicament. Facing a 6-0 deficit heading into the third, Smith got
and escape and takedown to come within three points, but Rader opened up
the lead in the third after an injury timeout by Smith, taking the Patriot
to his back one more time to finish the match 13-4.
Another defending state champion for South, 152-pounder Chad Porter is
always entertaining. The Patriot didn't disappoint his fans, as he plowed
into Big Red Ryan Ewing for a three-second takedown. Porter continued to
run up the score in his 19-4 route of his cross-town opponent.
Scooter Myers' pin of Patriot Zack Sallee was probably all the momentum
that Parkersburg needed for the win, and the first pin of the night was a
big win for the Red and White. Sallee, wrestling for starter Nick Munday
(who is out with Mono), was only trailing 2-1 when Myers took him to his
back with less than a minute to go in the first. About 25 seconds later,
it was all she wrote as Myers finished with the pin. George Keeney, one of
several state officials in attendance, and I agreed that this was the real
turning point for the Big Reds.
South's Bryan Teter gave one of the Patriots' better efforts in his match
against freshman phenom Andy Thomas. However, it wasn't enough as Thomas
built up enough points for a major decision in his 14-6 win over the South
Marquee matchup number two between South's Codi Norman and Parkersburg's
Chance Litton started out fast and furious, but ended up with Litton
controlling the entire match and holding the defending state champion
scoreless for six minutes to take an 8-0 major decision.
Litton's major decision rendered the 215-pound match moot, as Parkersburg
had now built up an insurmountable 30-23 lead, but Big Red Joey Lindamood
wasn't satisfied with a mere win. Starting the third period in neutral
position with a 4-2 lead, the Big Red junior took his Patriot counterpart
to his back and sealed the deal for the Big Reds with a pin with just 28
seconds gone in the third.
The beauty part of dual wrestling meets is that as a coach you can use
strategies that you're not going to be able to use in the regional and
state tournaments. I remember how former North Marion Coach Roy Michael
was famous for juggling his lineup in big dual matches, namely against
Fairmont Senior and Parkersburg South. Coaches all over the state use
similar strategies against their rivals. That's what makes dual matches so
exciting. The rivalry between the two Parkersburg schools also has a long
history of coaches using different strategies to win the match, and this
year Scheny made a great coaching decision and the gamble certainly paid
off. Congratulations to the Big Red wrestling program on a big victory.
But bear in mind, as history has shown, the winner of the annual dual does
not necessarily have a lock on the state tournament. Several times over
the years, the loser of the annual dual has gone on to one-up their rival
at the state tournament. Could this year be South's year? A healthy South
team will be hard to beat at the regional and state tournaments if
Parkersburg cannot fill the 112-pound weight class, but a healthy South
team isn't a certainty, and Parkersburg definitely has enough big guns to
take their third straight state championship. Only time will tell, but it
should definitely come down to another classic battle in Huntington between
the two teams from Parkersburg.
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