Even though it's only the first week of December, action on the wrestling mat is already quite intense.
I was at the end of a recent Wirt County practice last week and the Tigers appear to be in good form this early on.
The Tigers of head coach Kenny Dye very well could have and probably should have won the Little Kanawha Conference wrestling championship last year, but it didn't happen. The good news for fans of the orange and black this season is it appears the Tigers are indeed going to be the hunted. Wirt County is the host site for the LKC tournament.
Although I will not be covering any wrestling tonight, the place to be without question is in Jackson County at Ripley High School where the Huntington Highlanders will be strolling into town to take on coach Matt Smith's Vikings, who last Saturday defeated Parkersburg South for the first time ever in a dual.
Yes, I know Parkersburg South has captured the last four Class AAA state mat crowns and the Patriots are seeking big school history by trying to win five in a row, but many people around the Mountain State feel the Highlanders are the team to beat. Coach Rob Archer's squad topped the initial wvmat.com Class AAA wrestling poll and received nine of the 10 first place votes, finishing ahead of the Patriots and their first-year mat boss Donna Dixon.
Moving to the college ranks, it was good to finally get a chance to watch the Ohio Valley University wrestling program compete on Tuesday evening inside the Elite Sports Center.
Fighting Scot head coach Pat Sole wants to make a winner of OVU, but building a program from the ground up is never an easy task. It's also a difficult task when things not in your control go awry.
On Tuesday night versus Ashland University, the Fighting Scots had to forfeit three of the 10 weight classes.
"It's a combination of things," admitted Sole, which varied from injuries to illness. "College is a long season. You start in September in preseason and you start in season training hard in October and it doesn't end until March.
"The guys are just beating on each other and we are low in numbers and kids. We have to be conservative with what we can do and what we can't do."
What coach Sole wants to do is have one of his OVU grapplers qualify for the national tournament. Whether or not that happens this year or not, I'm sure it will occur at some point in the not too distant future.
Despite thinking he was going to have a full lineup this year, it's not materialized.
"We had a full lineup and we lost a couple kids right off the go the first two weeks of school," said Sole, who noted at current full strength OVU would have just one weight class to forfeit.
"The biggest thing is trying to get the guys to make it through the season without getting injured."