The host Red Devils of veteran head man Mike Stump are ranked third in the latest state poll while programs Roane County and Herbert Hoover are ranked fourth and sixth, respectively.
Point Pleasant has the only full team in the field. Roane County is shy of a complete squad, missing a 189-pounder while Stump’s Red Devils are without the services of a heavyweight.
“They will be hard to beat,” admitted Stump of Point Pleasant, which bested the Red Devils for the regional trophy last year by a count of 231-177.5.
“It’s probably just theirs to lose. Their kids are seeded well.”
The Big Blacks have more No. 1 seeds than any other program. Head coach Jack Cullen’s team is led by 160-pound senior Anthony Jeffers and his 46-1 record.
Fellow Big Blacks expected to have top of the podium finishes include Rusty Maness at 112, Phillip Allen at 119, Derek Mitchell at 171 and 189-pounder Brock McClung.
Calhoun County 152-pound senior Jeff Goodrich is the lone Red Devil upperclassman with a No. 1 seed. CCHS also has top seeds from 130-pound sophomore Cody Clark and 135-pound freshman Ben Laughlin.
No other team has more than two No. 1 seeds, although Roane County and Sissonville have a pair apiece.
Roane County 103-pound freshman sensation Joshua Fisher has the only unblemished record in the field. The Raider is 39-0 on the campaign and joins brother Justin Fisher as Roane County’s top seeds.
The elder Fisher, a junior, sports a 22-1 mark and is expected to take the crown at 125.
One-loss grapplers Fisher and Jeffers are joined by the duo of Cody Moore and Jordan Adkins as the only other regional entrants having tasted defeat just once. Moore, a 35-1 senior from Herbert Hoover, is the No. 1 seed at 140 while Adkins has a 26-1 record as a 145-pound senior for the Panthers of Clay County.
“I know that region one has the best team in it (Oak Glen), but after that the depth is not near as strong as what our region is,” Stump added.
“I really don’t know how many we are going to qualify. Our region is probably one of the deepest.”
The other No. 1 seeds both hail from Sissonville — seniors Jonsen Edens at 215 and heavyweight Ronnie Walls.
In the past, the Region IV tournament has been conducted using two days, but such isn’t the case this winter.
“It’s been two days because we’ve had like 11 wrestlers in one weight class,” Stump said. “But, it worked out this year that we had no more than 10 in any weight class.”
Although Point Pleasant appears to have the best shot of making a run at Oak Glen in Huntington, coach Stump has been in that position several times before and he knows it’s anything but easy.
“Point Pleasant has a good team, but Oak Glen is still the one to beat,” he said.
Photo by Jay W. Bennett
Calhoun County’s Jeff Goodrich, top, is the lone Red Devil upperclassman touting a No. 1 seed in the regional tourney.