West Virginia Mat Lines
by Jenny Sullivan
Here's the line for January 16, 2008:
It's not often that fans on both sides of the Little Kanawha River come home from the Parkersburg/Parkersburg South dual with smiles on their faces. But such was the case at the annual meeting between the two rivals that ended with the Big Reds giving Coach Scheny Schenerlein his first-ever home victory over the Patriots with a 36-26 win.
Parkersburg High proved for the second time in five days that they're practically unbeatable even when not at full strength. And Parkersburg South, on the strength of some middle weight victories - both expected and unexpected - avoided what some thought could have been a blowout.
A relatively sparse crowd arrived in time to see the junior varsity matches, which were over rather quickly as all five matches ended in first or second period pins. The Patriots picked up pins from Matt Tennant, Carl Travis, Travis Chichester, and Duane Copen while the Big Reds' Brent Wilson won his match by pin.
I have to pause a moment to reflect on my own words. My definition of a sparse crowd would have most athletic departments ecstatic if that many people were in attendance at a wrestling match. But when one has grown up watching wrestling in this town as have I, unless the Parkersburg Memorial Fieldhouse is packed for this wrestling match, then something is wrong.
While waiting on the match to begin, I noticed Parkersburg's football sensation Josh Jenkins walk in and sit down beside a gentleman with gray hair. The man sitting at the scorer's table beside me informed me that the man was none other than Florida State Offensive Line Coach Rick Trickett, here on a recruiting visit. Although he was here on football business, I hope he enjoyed a little taste of how passionate we are about wrestling in this part of the state, even though being a native West Virginian, I'm sure he's no stranger to the fact that Wood County is the hotbed of West Virginia wrestling.
Between the junior varsity and varsity matches, the infamous "drum" temporarily disappeared. For you folks not familiar with the drum, it's a big bass drum that starts beating every time a Big Red comes close to pinning his opponent. I said that since we were were going to start the match at 215, it might not take too long before it surfaced. And sure enough, the young lady banging the drum barely got her mallet in place as Matt Lindamood only took 16 seconds to put away South sophomore Andrew Parsons.
Lindamood's teammate Zach Nolan quickly upped the score to 12-0 as he won his match via forfeit. Patriot heavyweight Zach Hanson was on the bench due to a skin infection he contracted last weekend at the Virginia Duals.
Parkersburg's Kyle Bratke lived up to his number-one ranking as he pinned Zac Wilson in 38 seconds to keep the Big Reds' winning streak alive.
In a match that could have gone either way, Parkersburg's Tommy Huggins handed South's Jeremy Corbitt a 4-2 decision to put the Big Reds on top by 21 points.
Going into the 119-pound match, the score was for the most part what had been expected, so everyone was now ready to get down to business as two outstanding wrestlers and long-time rivals stepped on the mat for a rematch of the 2007 103-pound state championship match.
Parkersburg's Jordon Nolan and South's Tyler Green have wrestled on many occasions, and it's always a great match. Green might have still had last year's loss in the finals on his mind, and he came out charging, taking Nolan down in a mere five seconds. Nolan got an escape, and the first period ended with Green up 2-1. Nolan chose down in the second and got another escape. He grabbed Green's ankle at the edge of the mat, and in a battle of will and strength, ever so slowly managed to pull Green back onto the mat, much to the delight of the Big Red faithful. The subsequent takedown would prove to be the only other points he needed as he countered a third period shot by Green and went on to take the 4-2 decision.
South's Nic Busch finally gave his fans something to cheer about as he won a good old fashioned South/PHS match that brought back memories of the "old" days. Leading 2-0 going into the second, Busch deferred to his opponent Chad Morrison, who chose down. Morrison attempted a reversal, Busch countered, then Morrison successfully scored the reversal and 3-point nearfall with 50 seconds remaining. But as quickly as the drum started beating, it was silenced as Busch reversed for a 5-point move of his own with 38 seconds remaining in the period. In typical fashion, this match was indicative of how quickly the momentum can shift when these two teams clash. Busch went on to win the match 9-5, and acknowledged the cheering South fans with a nod of his head and a big smile on his face.
I had a smile on my own face during the match as I looked over and noticed that Steve Bratke had relieved Alan Morrison from his post at the video camera. Alan was behind him cheering his son Chad on in what I felt was one of the best matches of the night.
At 130, South's Bo Cooper appeared as though he was going to improve upon his team-high 15 pins on the season as he broke a 2-2 tie with Josh Shiflet in the first period, reversing the Big Red and taking him straight to his back to pull ahead 7-2. Cooper widened the lead and added four points to the guest side of the scoreboard with an 11-3 major decision.
South's Danny Fordyce gave the Patriots their first pin of the night as he took only 27 seconds to pin Bryan Aliff, who was wrestling in place of Morgan Leach.
As expected, Coach Schenerlein held regular 140-pounder Brandon Wilson back for the next match and sent Clark Ferrell in to wrestle instead. The Patriots were starting John Lemon in place of the ailing Cody Richards, one of several South wrestlers struck with a bug they brought home as an unwelcome souvenir from their Virginia trip last weekend. Although Lemon has enjoyed some success on the junior varsity level this season, Ferrell's more extensive varsity experience paid off as he handed Lemon an 8-0 major decision to put the Big Reds up 28-13 and give them all the points that they would eventually need for the night.
Next came the match that many had anticipated would happen. In sharp contrast to Patriot Head Coach Paul Jackson, who has barely made any lineup changes all season, Coach Schenerlein is noted for strategically shifting his lineup when he feels it's necessary to win a match or at least help the cause. And more times than not, his strategy usually works to his advantage. But sometimes a strategic move doesn't always work in one's favor, and such was the case tonight.
After over a minute of circling the mat, Church took the first shot and each wrestler took a couple more shots, but the first period ended in no score. Wilson scored the first point of the match with a second-period escape to make the score 1-0 after two periods. Church began the third period on bottom and scored a point of his own thirty-five seconds into the period as Wilson was penalized for unnecessary roughness. When Church escaped with 30 seconds remaining, the South crowd started going nuts. After going out of bounds twice in the waning seconds, Church emptied the South bench with his 2-1 victory over the defending state champion and jumped into the arms of Zach Hanson. All the while the South fans were screaming loudly and several Big Red fans were booing, I'm guessing more at their disagreement with official Chris DiSerio than at Andy Church.
Chris always seems to be willing to take on a task that many officials wouldn't touch with a ten-foot pole, and every year someone isn't happy. But I think he's used to it by now. As a matter of fact, he received very few boos (I think the South fans only booed him once), which says he must be doing something right!
The next three matches were rather one-sided as South freshman Chris Smith won by major decision over Nathan Cunningham at 152, the Big Reds' Matt Littleton won by major decision over Jacob Layton 13-5, and Big Red senior Kyle McPeek won by a 15-3 major decision over South sophomore Coleby Richards. Richards refused to go down without a fight though, as he fought his way out of a pin situation twice.
I want to take a moment to digress a little and mention something about Coleby Richards. Nearly two weeks ago, South faced Sheridan, a team from the Zanesville, Ohio, area in the final match at the Meadowbrook Duals. Going into the final match of the night (which happened to be the 189-pound match where Richards was wrestling that weekend), South maintained a slim six-point lead. Had Richards surrendered a pin, South would have lost the match on the sixth criteria (greater number of first points scored in the match). All he had to do was avoid a pin to secure the championship for his team. But rather than simply avoid the pin, he pinned his opponent in the second period, and he and his teammates gave Coach Jackson his first team championship trophy since Jackson returned to the helm at South after a nine-year hiatus.
In the final match of the night, the Big Red coaches decided to keep Andy Thomas out of the lineup yet again since they'd already clinched the dual. They sent in Tyler Fornash to face South's David McCoy, whose first period pin brought the Patriots to within 10 points of the Big Reds for the final 36-26 score.
All in all, it wasn't the most hotly contested dual between the schools, but it had its share of excitement. The Big Reds are a prime example of a team that's a good dual team but an even better tournament team. They proved that last weekend and will likely prove it again at the end of February. South on the other hand, gave their fans a preview of what's in store for the next few years, as they only graduate two seniors (Busch and Layton) from a young team that's exhibiting a lot of heart.
And that's enough to put smiles on a lot of faces.
Contact Jenny Sullivan at email@example.com
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