Wirt claims LKC

ELIZABETH -Dylan Pickrell’s 3-2 victory against Clay County’s Wyatt Dawson in the 220-pound finals here Saturday night sealed the Little Kanawha Conference wrestling crown for host Wirt County, which topped the two-time defending champion Panthers 190.5 to 180.5.

Dawson, who needed a pin for the LKC tournament to end squared at 186.5 apiece, allowed a takedown to the top-seeded Pickrell with 30 seconds left in the match, which broke a 1-1 tie.

“Every match counted and I told them that all year long,” said Wirt County head coach Kenny Dye, whose Tigers won their first LKC championship since 1998. “You can’t have a bad match in a big tournament like this.

“Every one of them counts and it came down today to the same thing. My seniors stepped up and I’ve put a lot of pressure on them this year. We had several sophomores place and a freshman.”

The marquee battle of the night featured a pair of undefeated grapplers meeting in the 126-pound finals. Calhoun County freshman Casey Ritchie, who was 45-0, was matched against 23-0 junior Dalton George of Williamstown.

George took the lead for good with 23 seconds left in the opening period when he got a takedown and finished off his second career LKC title by hitting a five-point move in the final 11 seconds to secure an 8-1 decision.

George, a state champion as a freshman and a state runner-up last year, was honored as the LKC’s most outstanding wrestler. He’s missed three weeks this year due to illness and only has been back in action for two weeks.

“An undefeated freshman, you can’t let that slide. That’s real good stuff,” George said of his Red Devil opponent. “But, hard work and preparation, man, I’m telling you.

“I’ve worked all year long for this and it’s really paid off. It’s (losing last year’s state finals) a burning fire in the back of my head and I’m going to get it back this year. That’s the plan.”

Clay County 113-pounder Justin Triplett captured his third career llc title, but was challenged by Roane County freshman Cole Moore. Although Moore got a reversal in the third and Triplett got a stall call, the Panther capped off his last LKC match with an 11-3 major decision.

Jon Cain of Wirt County, one of four orange and black grapplers to finish atop the podium, doubled up Roane County’s Cam Moore, 4-2, in the 120-pound championship. Cain, a two-time llc champ, had a takedown in the first, a reversal in the second and held his Raider opponent down for the entire third period.

Also winning titles for the Tigers were 138-pounder Jake Linville and 152-pounder Austin Cottrell. Linville capped off his second LKC crown with an 11-2 major decision against against Calhoun County’s Cole Ritchie. Cottrell took the lead for good with a reversal in the second period and sealed his 4-2 victory when he registered the only takedown of the match with 20 seconds left in the third.

Triplett had a pair of teammates – Alex Suite at 132 and Tyler Stewart at 160 – join him in winning llc crowns. Suite denied Tiger Hagan Root of a second career llc title when he took control in his 8-5 victory thanks to a reversal and two near fall points in the second period. Stewart took first after dispatching Ricky Hammon of Braxton County, 11-2.

The first LKC victor of the night was Ritchie County sophomore Jacob Monn. The top-seeded Rebel doubled up Clay County’s Jack Cumings, 10-5. The evening ended when Calhoun County crowned its lone champion thanks to heavyweight Austin Satterfield picking up a 4-2 decision versus Williamstown’s Alex Rauch.

Williamstown, which finished fourth overall with 118 points behind Calhoun County’s 122.5 and ahead of Braxton County’s fifth-place effort of 98.5, did claim one individual title thanks to 145-pounder Jake Tracewell. The WHS quarterback took care of Braxton County’s Ricky Hammon, 6-3.

Perhaps one of the most controversial finals in LKC history came at 170 where St. Marys’ Mike Houser emerged victorious as the fourth seed. Just to reach the finals, Houser had to get a pin with 14 seconds left in his match with Clay County No. 2 seed Brandon White, who lost via the mat slapper after appearing as though he would win an easy technical fall.

In the finals, Houser got behind Williamstown’s David Hastings 5-0 in the first period before getting a reversal and three back points to square the match. During the process of the near fall, Houser was eventually awarded his llc crown via pin when it was discussed by the official and the head table that he indeed just beat the clock in the nick of time.

Ritchie County did well in the upper weights thanks to 182-pounder Brad Riddle and 195-pounder Matt Harkness, who both registered first period pins. Riddle beat Jeremy Pratt of St. Marys while Harkness stuck Blue Devil Anthony Herring.

Root and Cain were joined as four-time LKC placers by Calhoun County’s Levi Gordon and Calhoun County’s Mitchell Schoolcraft, both of whom won their respective consolation finals matches.