Big Reds prevail

PARKERSBURG – Champions find a way and that’s exactly what the Parkersburg High School wrestling team did here early Saturday evening inside Memorial Fieldhouse.

The host Big Reds of head coach Chris Way got a championship match-sealing pin from junior 195-pounder Max Chefren as PHS won the seventh annual West Virginia Duals for the first time in school history by knocking off rival Parkersburg South, 31-30.

“I told him (Chefren) going into the match that if he pinned we would win the match,” said Way, who also watched Chefren seal a 32-31 dual win versus Springboro early Saturday morning via pin that gave the red and white a perfect record in pool play.

“He had to know what he had to do. His responsibility was to get it because I thought we were outmatched at heavyweight and he knew we had to get the pin.”

As it turned out, Chefren’s third period mat slapper against Patriot Tyler Newhart gave PHS a 31-18 advantage. Logan Dilliner won via forfeit at 220 and PSHS heavyweight Thomas Hall got the final score to within a point following his second period pin of Donovan Morris.

“I told the guys at the beginning somebody had to pick up the slack and the guys did that,” Way added. “This is the best we’ve wrestled all season and it started today with Springboro.”

Parkersburg South, which won the W.Va. Duals thrice from 2009-2011, fell behind 7-0 after the first two matches. Hunter Cline lost 9-0 to Big Red 106-pounder Jared Donahue and Logan Ball suffered his first setback of the campaign when Austin Spears won 12-11 in sudden-death overtime.

“It was an illegal headlock,” Way noted of Spears’ winning point. “He (Ball) didn’t have an arm. He ended up locking his hands around the head and it’s an illegal headlock.”

The Patriots gained their first advantage on the scoreboard two matches later at 8-7 when Colten Nangle beat Joey Butcher 3-0 at 120 and 126-pounder Austin Harris followed with a 16-1 technical fall against Noah Farnsworth.

However, the Big Reds took the lead for good when 132-pounder Nick Johnson used just 52 seconds to get a mat slapper on T.J. Lambiotte. During Johnson’s previous match against La Salle, which finished in third place ahead of Centreville and Springboro, he got his winning takedown versus Alex Kowai for a 4-2 victory with two seconds left in the match.

At 138, Tyler Windland secured a 15-2 major decision against Gage Graham to close the deficit to 13-12, but Dylan Richards’ pin of Patriot 145-pounder Hunter DeLong pushed the advantage back to seven.

The two rivals opted to double forfeit at 152. Patriot 152-pounder Dylan Alexander suffered a shoulder injury in his previous match – a loss via pin to La Salle’s Deshon Cottman. PHS bumped up Trapper Hays and he took care of Damon Gandee for a 25-12 cushion after securing the pin in 62 seconds.

Although Matt Dixon beat Drew Murphy 9-3 at 170 and teammate Justin Allman followed with a 7-1 decision against Big Red 182-pounder Shawn Graham, it wasn’t enough for head coach Donna Dixon’s squad.

“We should have a lot of fans out,” coach Way added of Wednesday night’s city dual when Parkersburg South comes back to Memorial Fieldhouse. “It should be exciting, loud and a lot of good matches. I’m looking forward to it.

“You never know what you are going to get. Hopefully, we come out with just as high if not a higher level of intensity. I know Parkersburg South is going to come out with a higher level of intensity. They got something to prove now.”

Parkersburg South knocked off PHS 38-27 three days after Christmas at the Wheeling Park Duals in the first meeting of the season.