PHS, South battle for Region I mat crown

PARKERSBURG – Wrestling is expected to get underway at 11 a.m. for Saturday’s Class AAA, Region I tournament inside the John Marshall Field House.

Second-year Parkersburg South head coach Donna Dixon is hoping the Patriots can keep things rolling, but she’s more focused on getting each team member to next week’s state tournament in Huntington rather than winning a sixth straight Region I crown.

“Whatever we place in the region is fine,” said Dixon, whose team won the Class 5A Ohio Valley Athletic Conference tournament and is ranked third in the Mountain State in Class AAA.

“At this point we just want to get as many of our 13 kids to state as possible.”

Just like No. 2 ranked Parkersburg, the Patriots will be one grappler shy of filling a full squad of 14 on Saturday. A year ago, the Patriots topped the Big Reds for the team crown (238.5-203.5) as each program crowned five individual champions.

In the latest individual state rankings, the Patriots don’t have any wrestlers ranked in the top three. Patriot 120-pounder Colten Nangle and heavyweight Thomas Hall are ranked fourth in their respective weight classes.

“I think we’ve definitely done better than people thought we would,” Dixon added of how the season has gone thus far, which included the Patriots winning the OVAC duals title. “The big show starts Saturday.

“Anything can happen at regionals. That’s why it’s fun because you never know what is going to happen. The whole thing is up for grabs.”

PHS head coach Chris Way’s program moved ahead of the Patriots in the team rankings this week.

The only wrestlers from either PHS or PSHS trying to win at least a second career regional title is Big Red 152-pounder Trapper Hays. Hays, ranked second in triple-A behind Wheeling Park’s Jonny Davis, is actually going for a third regional title. As a freshman, Hays won at 120 and he topped the field at 132 last winter.

Aside from Hays, PHS has a quartet of other grapplers ranked in the top four in Class AAA with Jared Donahue (No. 2 at 106), Dylan Richards (No. 1 at 145), Codie Barrows (No. 3 at 160) and Max Chefren (No. 3 at 195). Hays, Donahue and Barrows join 113-pounder Austin Spears and 132-pounder Nick Johnson as expected regional champions.

“If you just go by the seeds we would only be expected to get 10 through,” Way said. “We only have 10 guys seeded in the top four with two fifths and one sixth.

“It’s important for the last three guys to step up and they have to overachieve a little bit to make it to the state tournament, so it’s possible. We definitely have confidence in them and they’ve been focused in practice doing what they need to do.”

As far as unseating rival Parkersburg South as the king of Region I goes, time will tell.

“Just like any tournament we enter if every individual takes care of their responsibility the team stuff takes care of itself,” Way added. “It’s going to be a really close team race.

“We’re not too focused on it, but we’ll have an eye on it. The team race is going to come down to which team scores the most bonus points.”

Ripley will be the host site for Saturday’s Class AAA, Region III tournament.

The Vikings have 13 wrestlers entered in the field, but eight are not seeded.

Jake Martin and Lucas Simpkins have top seeds for the Vikings at 152 and 126, respectively. Ripley’s lone No. 2 seed is 160-pounder Preston Martin.