South’s DeLong to wrestle for WVU
PARKERSBURG — Three-sport athlete and Class AAA 182-pound state champion Hunter DeLong of Parkersburg South inked his national letter of intent on Wednesday to continue his career on the mat for the Mountaineers of West Virginia University head coach Sammie Henson.
DeLong, who earned four letters each in wrestling and baseball along with three in football, is leaning toward a major in exercise physiology.
“It was about the middle of the year when he texted coach (David) Jeffrey and he wanted my number and they wanted me to visit,” DeLong said of how things got started with coach Henson.
“That’s when I started thinking I should just go to WVU instead of all these other places I’ve been thinking about. It really just means a lot to me that my home state wants me to wrestle for them.”
DeLong capped off a 33-4 campaign by beating University’s Nick Valachovic in the state finals. He also reached the state finals as a junior, but had to settle for runner-up honors and finished 40-6.
“Division I, that’s the top echelon of wrestling. I’m proud of him,” said Patriot mat boss Shaun Smith. “He’s such a good athlete. I mean, it shows because he’s a very good baseball player, a good football player and he’s a tremendous wrestler as well.
“In that aspect, he’s a very good athlete so I think that will help him a lot and he works hard. He’s a hard worker and does what you ask him. I think he’ll do well and he’ll get better. He’ll have to get better. You can’t be in that room and not get better and that’s the main thing.”
The senior grappler helped the Patriots to a three-peat state championship team title and admitted “I didn’t really get serious about wrestling until maybe my junior year when I started getting a lot better and actually beating people who were going to these Division I colleges. That’s when I really thought I could possibly do it and I did.”
While DeLong said he played around 210 pounds during football season and is about 190 now, his future on the Division I mat could very well be at 174.
“I’ve just been walking these halls and taking everything in while I can before graduation,” he added. “I feel like I got strengths everywhere, but I’m pretty sure he (coach Henson) is going to show me that I’m not that good at all, break me down and then show me what I did wrong.
“I’m pretty sure he’ll make me into a good wrestler. It feels good. Just like Dylan Cottrell and Jake Smith did, they were from West Virginia and everyone overlooks us and West Virginia is not really the best wrestling state is what everyone says and they go out there and they are ranked in the country so that gives me some fire.”
Although DeLong knows he’s going to miss his old stomping grounds, as well as playing football and baseball, there’s something else he knows will be hard to replace.
“The community is always around us and everybody is just supporting you, no matter what you do, whether it be baseball, football or wrestling,” DeLong continued. “Everyone just wants to see South do good, especially wrestling.
“I mean we are expected to win a state title every year and that’s what we basically do every year. I’m going to be missing that community presence there and everyone supporting you.”