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Wrestlers had big weekend

The beat seems to just keep going for Parkersburg South head coach Shaun Smith’s wrestling program.

Aside from winning a record fifth straight Class AAA state team crown this past winter, the Patriot grapplers continue to prosper in the “offseason.”

At last week’s 30th annual National High School Coaches Association championships in Virginia Beach, PSHS had its fair share of success.

Brayden Roberts, who competed in the 145-pound junior division, earned All-American honors after going 6-2 and placing fourth.

It was the best effort from any local prep grappler.

Patriot teammate Gavin Quiocho had nine matches and went 7-2. That earned him a fifth-place finish in the sophomore 145-pound division along with an All-American nod.

“I wasn’t able to go, but I did get to watch their matches,” noted coach Smith, who also was glad to see Edison teammates Gage Wright (champ at 119) and Nathan Ford (eighth place at 100) along with Blennerhassett’s Josiah Lipscomb (sixth place at 180) take All-American middle school honors.

“FloWrestling makes it a lot easier to watch wrestling, especially when there are bigger tournaments.”

While the Patriots and future Patriots had a lot of success, it also wasn’t a bad weekend for Parkersburg High School junior John Martin Best. The Big Red competed at 152 and also went through nine grueling matches en route to a 7-2 showing, which garnered him fifth place.

“I had to miss Thursday and Friday,” Best said of being out of school last week, but he made the most of it by earning All-American for a third straight year.

“I wanted to do better. I really did. I got upset in the quarterfinals and I had a pretty close match. There was like 132 kids in my bracket. It was the second largest.”

Best told me during the preseason he wouldn’t mind having Roberts back in the same weight class, but the Patriot bumped up three classes and won the 145-pound title.

Best, of course, won it all at 152 and also earned his second career triple-A state crown like Roberts.

“I learn bits and pieces every year,” Best said of going out and competing against the top grapplers in the nation. “I think this tournament flipped a new page for me and showed everything I was doing wrong.”

Admittedly, Best said he felt as though he was “gassed at the end of the (state) tournament,” and going nine matches last week wasn’t easy.

The most important thing he took away was, “I can’t leave it to the refs to decide my match. (If I do, it) will bite me in the rear. Leaving it up in the air is not an option.”

What will be an exciting option for coach Smith this coming season will be where to slot Wright, a two-time Trinity Award winner, in the lineup.

“Hopefully, he’ll continue to thrive as he gets older,” said the coach. “I have no doubt he’ll be able to do that.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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