PARKERSBURG - Little Kanawha Conference wrestling champion Wirt County, ranked third in the latest Class AA/A poll, is expected to be challenged by No. 5 Clay County when Region IV action gets under way at 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Roane County.
"Team-wise, you've got Clay and Wirt and Williamstown and Calhoun," said Roane County head coach Wayne Jarvis. "We'll have a few kids in there who could make a difference, but it's probably going to come down to some key matches here and there.
"I think the regional team title is probably going to be tight and could swing either way. I don't anticipate it to be that much different team-wise as it was at the LKC. It will be similar."
Photo by?Jay W. Bennett
Wirt County's Jake Linville and Calhoun County's Cole Ritchie, pictured here in their Little Kanawha Conference championship match, will be two of the participants in the 138-pound weight class during Saturday's regional wrestling tournament at Roane County.
Nearly two weeks ago in Elizabeth, the Tigers of head coach Kenny Dye won the LKC crown by 10 points against runner-up Clay County.
Wirt County has the most No. 1 seeds in Region IV thanks to Jon Cain (120), Jake Linville (138), Austin Cottrell (152) and 182-pounder Walker Siers. Both Clay County and Williamstown have three top seeds. The Panthers have expected winners in Jack Cummings (106), Justin Triplett (113) and 132-pounder Alex Suite. Williamstown should have top of the podium finishes by Dalton George at 126, Jake Tracewell at 145 and David Hastings at 170.
However, coach Dye knows it's not just about winning individual crowns for the orange and black, a squad that is expected to qualify a dozen grapplers to Huntington.
"It's going to be tight. I feel it coming again," Dye said of the team race. "We got a little illness going on, but I think we about got it whipped. We've got to get all of them we can to qualify. That's the whole goal.
"I'd like to qualify at least 12, but our region is pretty tough. For us to qualify 12, we are going to have to work and they are all going to have to wrestle. It's not going to be easy for any of them, really."
One match the Tiger coach would like to see is the expected 220-pound finals battle between Wirt County No. 2 seed Dylan Pickrell and top-seeded Zane Weese of Herbert Hoover.
"Weese is undefeated. I think Pickrell can beat him," said Dye, who noted Pickrell lost via pin the first time they wrestled and then lost a one-point decision in the second meeting.
Weese is joined by fellow Herbert Hoover heavyweight teammate Richard Woods as a No. 1 seed.
The other two top seeds for Region IV are Wahama's Kane Roush at 160 and Buffalo 195-pounder Kyle Frazier.