South wrestlers expected to win Region I

PARKERSBURG – While the No. 2 ranked Parkersburg South wrestling team is holding out hope for a record fifth straight Class AAA state title later this month, the focus come 10:30 a.m. Saturday at Brooke will be winning a fifth consecutive Region I title.

Aside from the host Bruins and the Patriots, whose lineup continues to fluctuate, the rest of the field consists of No. 3 Parkersburg, No. 7 Wheeling Park, No. 10 University as well as John Marshall, Morgantown and Preston.

Virginia Tech signee and Robert Dutton Award candidate Jared Haught of PHS is one of only two Region I grapplers still sporting an unblemished record. Haught, the expected victor at 182, is 43-0 on the campaign while top-seeded 132-pounder Scott Lopez of University is 36-0.

“We’ve got two top seeds,” PHS head coach Chris Way said of Haught and 120-pounder Jason West. “If you just go by seeds, we are projected to take 10.

“We’re pretty optimistic we can get 10 and we are hoping Mo (Talafhah at 152) and (heavyweight) Charley (Conley) can sneak out of there as well.”

Coach Way admitted that without question, Parkersburg South first-year head coach Donna Dixon’s Patriots shouldn’t have too many problems capturing the regional crown.

“Going by the seeds, they got a pretty good lead,” Way added. “But their lineup is changing right now.”

Indeed it is as Parkersburg South’s lineup issues will cause two brackets to be redrawn on Saturday morning. Expected Patriot No. 2 seed Chip Sturek at 152 is out and should be replaced by Jake Alexander. Also, expected fourth seed Stewart Morris at 145 appears to be done for the season.

“I don’t know if we want to release that or not,” Dixon said when asked who the Patriots would replace Morris with. “We’ve had some things happen and injuries we didn’t expect.

“Stewart’s injury hit us pretty hard. We weren’t expecting it. We sort of knew something was up with Chip because he didn’t wrestle in Huntington.”

Nonetheless, Parkersburg South is favored to have six wrestlers stand atop the podium in their respective weight classes, thanks to No. 1 seeds Logan Ball (106), Lance Hill (113), Kyle Knotts (126), Briar Shively (160), Drake Mills (170) and heavyweight Thomas Hall, who recently joined the starting lineup and sports the same 5-1 record as 182-pound teammate Damon Gandee – the third seed at 182.

Wheeling Park has two top seeds in 138-pounder Dylan Taylor and 145-pounder Jonny Davis. The only No. 1 seed for the host Bruins is Dillon Shaw at 152. The other No. 1 seeds are Terrance Fanning of Preston at 195 and John Marshall’s Cullen Ebbert at 220.