HUNTINGTON - State champions, whether team or individual, aren't always easy to come by and such was the case for the Mid-Ohio Valley Saturday night inside the Big Sandy Super Store Arena when the 66th annual West Virginia state wrestling tournament concluded.
Robert Dutton Award candidate Jared Haught of Parkersburg capped a 50-0 senior year with his third career title and the Big Reds of head coach Chris Way finished as the Class AAA state runner-up behind champion Huntington, which topped the Big Reds 200-160.5. Parkersburg South (138), Ripley (124.5) and Washington (105.5) rounded out the top five team scores.
Greenbrier West won the Class AA/A team title against Independence (131.5-119.5) while East Fairmont (106.5), North Marion (91) and Clay County (89) comprised the top five. Wirt County was sixth with 87.5 points while Williamstown (9th, 74) and Wahama (10th, 67) cracked the top 10.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Parkersburg’s Jared Haught rolls Lewis County’s Ryan Carson on his back in their 182-pound match. Haught won to finish his season at 50-0.
Aside from Haught, the only other state champions from the Mid-Ohio Valley were his Big Red practice partner Tyler Riddle (220), Williamstown's Dalton George at 126, the Ripley duo of Jake Martin (138) and Daryl Hicks (285) as well as Ritchie County 106-pound sophomore Jacob Monn.
Haught actually trailed Ryan Carson of Lewis County 5-2 after one period, but the Virginia Tech bound Big Red turned it on and posted an 11-7 triumph.
Riddle's title at 220 was especially sweet for the senior since he had lost two matches to John Marshall's Cullen Ebbert by scores of 3-1 this season. Riddle took the lead for good early in the third at 2-1 on a stall point and took complete control via a four-point move with 51 seconds to go en route to posting his 9-4 victory.
"I just left it all on the mat," said Riddle, who watched Big Red teammates Trapper Hays (132) and Skyler Terrell (138) come up short in their bids for titles. "I had the most intensity I've ever had and kept it the whole match.
"My coaches got me in the right state of mind and motivated me with having the chance to make history and be on the wall forever by winning a state championship."
Jake Martin, whose older brother Preston Martin lost his 152-pound finals match via injury default to Buckhannon-Upshur's Seth Cutright, shared the Class AAA most outstanding wrestler award with Huntington 145-pound state champion Justin Arthur. Martin scored the first takedown just 26 seconds into his finals battle with Terrell and never trailed during his 12-5 decision.
"It feels great," said the sophomore Jake Martin, who was the 120-pound state champion last season. "It's an awesome feeling. It's the best feeling in the world.
"That's my dream, (being a) four-time state champ. There is still a lot to accomplish yet, you know."
Hicks, who was runner-up last year at heavyweight, wasn't going to let that happen again. The Viking senior used three near fall points in the third period against Morgantown's Taylor Ortiz to seal his 4-1 win.
"I worked too hard to be nervous," Hicks said after he won. "I love Ripley and our coaching staff. They believe in you. I'm so glad to be a part of it."
Hays, a 10th-grader for the Big Reds, had to settle for another state finals runner-up finish after losing at 120 last winter. Musselman junior Kody Kernan got the first takedown of the match with 20 ticks left in the opening period and only allowed an escape in a 5-1 match.
Ripley's other finalist, 170-pound senior Nate Starkey, didn't score in his match versus Point Pleasant senior Reno Hill until he got a reversal with 1:01 left in the match, which set the final score at 8-2.
George, a junior for the Yellowjackets, missed out on his second title last year as a sophomore, but wasn't going to be denied on Saturday night. George, who gave heavy praise to his older brother Tyler for his success on the mat, defeated Calhoun County freshman Casey Ritchie for the third time this season. Ritchie, who finished 50-3, registered the first takedown, but found himself trailing 6-2 late in the fourth before getting a penalty point and then a reversal with 10 seconds left, but it wasn't enough in the 6-5 setback.
"I've been ready for this state tournament since last year Saturday night in February after losing that one," said George, who watched 145-pound teammate Jake Tracewell fall 9-3 to Anthony Alvaro of Fairmont Senior.
"I've worked my butt of and I'm proud of myself. I really got to give a special thanks to my brother, man. He's always there for me."
Monn, who capped a 51-4 season with his first state title, never trailed in posting a 7-3 decision against Fairmont Senior's Colin Masters.
Jon Cain of Wirt County was denied a second career state mat crown when he lost 6-2 to 49-0 junior Ryan Elliott of North Marion at 120.
Clay County's Justin Triplett didn't have enough to upend Grafton's Cody Goff in the 113-pound finals as the Bearcat won 7-1 to cap off a 45-0 campaign.
The Big Reds also had top six finishes from Austin Spears, who was third at 106, along with Codie Barrows (4th, 145), Nick Johnson (6th, 113) and Dylan Richards (6th, 160). Ripley's only consolation round finish came from Greg Medina, who was fourth at 195.
Parkersburg South placed nine wrestlers led by third place showings from Lance Hill (113) and Briar Shively (160). Also placing for the Patriots were Logan Ball (4th, 106), Jordan Quiocho (4th, 132), Dylan Alexander (5th, 145), Thomas Hall (5th, 285), Braidon Knotts (6th, 120), Jake Alexander (6th, 152) and Matt Dixon (6th, 195).
Mid-Ohio Valley place winners for Class AA/A were Wirt County's Jake Linville (3rd, 138), Hagan Root (4th, 132), Cody Ferguson (6th, 145) and Austin Cottrell (6th, 152); Clay County's Zack Ahart (3rd, 120), Tyler Stewart (4th, 160), Alex Suite (5th, 132) and Ricky Ahart (5th, 152); Calhoun County's Cole Ritchie (4th, 138); Roane County's Cole Moore (3rd, 113) and Riley White (5th, 106); Williamstown's David Hastings (5th, 170);
Ritchie County's Brad Riddle (5th, 182); Magnolia's Jared Wright (3rd, 195); the Braxton County trio of A.J. Adkins (5th, 120), James Accord (6th, 132) and Bryson Dennison (6th, 138) along with the Wahama quartet of Kane Roush (3rd, 160), Crandale Neal (4th, 170), Randall Robie (5th, 126) and Colton Neal (6th, 182).
The Class AAA Rod Oldham coach of the year award went to Huntington's Rob Archer while the Class AA/A Dix Manning coach of the year award was nabbed by Jeremy Tincher of Greenbrier West.
Greenbrier West's Tyler Parker (170), Goff and East Fairmont 195-pounder Jesse Roman shared the most outstanding wrestler award.