Parkersburg High wrestling coach Chris Way excited for West Virginia and Virginia Tech at PHS Fieldhouse

With the prep football season quickly winding down, the Mid-Ohio Valley is left with St. Marys trying to carry the torch to Wheeling Island Stadium.

While prep basketball and wrestling practices are fully underway, grapplers on the collegiate level are well into their season.

We are now a little more than three weeks out from what should be a thrilling afternoon when Division I mat programs Virginia Tech and West Virginia University collide in a dual at 2 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 18 inside Parkersburg’s Memorial Fieldhouse.

“I’m super excited. I’ve been talking about this for quite a while how I wanted to get this happening,” said PHS Big Red mat boss Chris Way.

“I was talking with coach (Sammie) Henson at the Mountaineer Caravan last spring and he was talking about different ways he wanted to publicize his program throughout the state and I just threw it out there. He was all on board with it and super excited. It was actually his idea to have the Virginia Tech match here.”

The match, which will be preceded by a youth wrestling clinic at noon in the Jack Stephens Gymnasium, was originally scheduled as a Mountaineer home date. Tickets are already on sale for $5 at wvusports.com and coach Way said he should have an allotment on hand about the first of next month.

There are a plethora of reasons for area wrestling fans to be pumped.

For starters, 2012 Robert Dutton Award winner Dylan Cottrell of Roane County should be wrestling for WVU at 165 pounds. Cottrell, currently ranked in the top 10 of his weight class nationally, was a win away last winter from earning All-American status.

Hokie All-American Jared Haught, who entered this week ranked third and just lost a tough 2-0 decision to top-ranked/Olympic bronze medalist J’Den Cox of Missouri, should be going up against WVU 197-pounder Jake Smith. The former George Washington state champion is ranked nationally in the top 10 as well.

“With Jared being there and being able to come back here and wrestle in the Fieldhouse and having the Mountaineers here, it’s going to be really, really great just for everybody to see the Mountaineers wrestle Virginia Tech, which is one of the top-ranked programs in the nation,” coach Way said of Tech head coach Kevin Dresser’s sixth-ranked program.

“You get to see Jared come back and wrestle Jake Smith, who is another instate product and Dylan Cottrell. This isn’t just a local thing. This has national implications for that weight class. It’s going to be really exciting.”

Way said he has been to WVU for operational/logistical meetings. The Mountaineers plan to try and make this feel like a home match as much as possible.

“There is a lot to pull off on that day,” Way added. “I think they are going to try and bring their mat down and make it like a real home environment, selling apparel and different things like that.

“I talked to Jared a couple days ago after he had his match with J’Den Cox and he was saying how excited he is to get back here and I’m sure his family is excited to see him wrestling one that’s close by. I’m sure other people are just as excited to see the Mountaineers wrestle here as well.”

Former Big Red Kyle Bratke, who has worked for FloWrestling since graduating at Ohio University, is trying to stream the match, which will be streamed by the Mountaineer Sports Network.

“We’re looking forward to it,” said Way with a smile.

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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