With another calendar year already underway, that means one thing - wrestling season is in full swing in the Mid-Ohio Valley.
Obviously, that is quite evident with the convergence of teams heading to Memorial Fieldhouse for the annual West Virginia Duals.
It's exciting to have a plethora of talented grapplers come into our area again as action will be hot and heavy from early this afternoon and continuing on through Saturday afternoon.
This marks the second consecutive year the W.Va. Duals will take place at Parkersburg High School.
This year also marks the first time the two-day tournament has taken place the first weekend after New Year's. Usually, the tournament has been at the end of January, but it's been moved up a couple of weeks.
Of course, one of the main reasons for the tournament being moved to the earlier part of the month was for Pennsylvania teams. In the past, David Jeffrey - the W.Va. Duals tournament director - wanted to get squads from the Keystone State involved. However, with the tournament being at the end of the month it proved problematic for Pennsylvania teams because that usually conflicted with their own state duals tournament schedule.
"It actually starts before that, but they couldn't commit to us," Jeffrey said. "They didn't know if they were going to win or lose in time to commitment."
Once again this year it looks like Mother Nature will play a big factor in exactly who ends up reaching Parkersburg to compete in the W.Va. Duals.
Although the high school portion of the W.Va. Duals has changed, the middle school event is still at the end of the month. On Friday, Jan. 31 and Saturday, Feb. 1 the middle school portion of the event will be held inside Parkersburg South's Rod Oldham Athletic Center. On Sunday, Feb. 2 the W.Va. Duals elementary school tournament will take place at PSHS.
The one person who works as a key liaison in compiling tournament results and getting them to us here at the newspaper is Brent Sams.
Suffice it to say Mr. Sams earns a lot of praise and accolades from the sports staff at the paper each time around this year. That's also true of countless other volunteers who help input wrestling data into the computers and folks who do a myriad of other key tasks to make this weekend as successful as possible for all the student-athletes involved.
However, the W.Va. Duals will be without Mr. Sams this year, at least on the final day because of a previous commitment.
"I'm doing a junior Little Kanawha Conference tournament on Saturday at 10 a.m. at the Elite (Sports) Center," Sams said of the one-day event. "It's open to all middle schools (and elementary schools) who are feeders to the LKC high schools.
"I've been busy this week trying to get all this done. We have four elementary school teams and four middle school teams."
Needless to say, mat season is heating up.
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org