PHS mat pair Hays, Haught set for trip

PARKERSBURG – Two Parkersburg High wrestlers – Trapper Hays, a to-be junior, and Jared Haught, who just graduated, are headed to Fargo, N.D., this month for the Cadet Junior Nationals.

Big Red head wrestling coach Chris Way just got done this past week running a training camp at PHS, part of the three-week summer coaching period in West Virginia.

But the camp also served as one of three regional training locations in the state, along with Huntington and Morgantown, where any wrestlers going to Fargo for the national meet could practice and wrestle against other Fargo-bound grapplers from West Virginia.

Way explained that “if you get top four in the state, you qualify for Team West Virginia, which goes to Fargo for the nationals.”

The Cadet Junior Nationals feature two styles of wrestling: Greco-Roman and freestyle. “Out there, they can wrestle one or both styles, and a lot of them do both as our two guys will – rapper at 138 pounds and Jared at 182,” said Way.

“They’ve been training in both, and it’s fun for them because it’s definitely different than high school (wrestling) with new rules and new techniques to learn.”

Former pro boxer Burt Hays of Vienna is Trapper Hays’ great uncle. In fact, Trapper comes from the boxing Hays family, but “I’m like the only generation that hasn’t boxed; I’m the wrestler,” he said.

Burt’s son Jake boxed too and so did Trapper’s dad. “But I never got into boxing,” said Trapper. “I got into wrestling when I was seven years old and that’s all I’ve done since then -and I love it.”

This past week, both Trapper Hays and Haught endured two-a-day and three-a-day practice sessions “that were pretty rough,” said Hays. “But they’re going to pay off when I go out to Fargo.”

Hays went to Fargo for the first time last summer, and “it was a new experience,” he said. “But I feel like this year, I can go out there and do good. Last year is in the past now; I’m looking forward to this one.”

Trapper’s prep mat career so far has produced two state runner-up finishes – at 120 pounds as a freshman and at 132 as a sophomore -“and I hate to come in second,” he stated.

Hays explained that ”there’s three separate styles of wrestling – freestyle, Greco-Roman and the one most common is folkstyle, the one we wrestle during the season.

“In Greco, you can’t use your legs, while in the other two, you can use your whole body and in Greco, you’re not allowed to use your upper body. So all that’s kind of confusing sometimes. But you just have to get your head straight and wrestle what you know.”

Already a two-time All-American in folkstyle on the high-school level, Hays said if he “goes out to Fargo and does good, that will be a big stepping stone for me – and I’ll be very proud of myself.

“And I feel if I put in my time working hard, then I can go out there and place – that’s all I want to do really.”

Hays added too that he felt Big Red teammate Haught, a three-time state champion who will be making his last trip to Fargo for the nationals, “could go out there and definitely win both freestyle and Greco. He’s that good, an amazing wrestler.”

Way noted that “for us, Andy Thomas was a champion at Fargo. And he’s been the only one of our guys to win that tournament out there.

“But I think Trapper has a good shot at placing this year and Jared has a good shot at possibly winning this year.”

Way thought the biggest thing about Fargo is that ”since the best kids in the country are going to be there, it’s easier to become really recognized since almost every college coach in the country will be there watching.

“Also, a number of kids out there won’t even place, but they’re going to get recognized by those college coaches and possibly get some scholarship money. So it’s a good tournament for that reason too.”