South topples multiple marks on way to title
HUNTINGTON — Parkersburg South’s Class AAA four-peat domination is complete as too is the one-year run of Patriot 152-pounder Josh Humphreys, who on Saturday night inside Huntington’s Big Sandy Superstore Arena became the 18th grappler in Mountain State history to win four individual titles.
The Lehigh University-bound Humphreys, who was named the triple-A Most Outstanding Wrestler, capped a 49-2 season for head man Shaun Smith — the Rod Oldham Most Outstanding Coach — by pinning University’s Owen Zeiders in 1:58.
“It’s definitely something I’m excited about, especially since I was kind of the person who put us over the top of breaking the record (most points scored in state tournament),” said Humphreys, who won his first title as a 106-pounder at Huntington High before standing atop the podium twice at St. Albans as a junior (145) and a sophomore (120). “It’s pretty cool.”
Parkersburg South amassed 288 points to break its old mark of 277 set back in 2005. South also crowned six champs, which broke the old school record of five held both last year and in 1997.
Going into the state mat tournament, only 62 wrestlers had achieved three state crowns and South 138-pounder Luke Martin was looking to add his name to that last after winning 113 as a sophomore and 126 as a junior.
Standing in his way was 120-pound 2017 state champion John Martin Best of Parkersburg, who beat the Patriot 8-3 in overtime at the city dual, but was upended at the Region IV tournament, 3-1.
The 138-pound finals match was tight for a while, but the Patriot Martin wasn’t to be denied during a 12-2 major decision.
“That kind of cements my legacy as a South wrestler,” said the WVU-bound Martin. “It’s been a wild ride.”
The state finals actually got underway at 126 and Parkersburg South had its first chance at getting a title for Wood County with sophomore Brayden Roberts.
Roberts made a trio of near fall points stand during his 4-2 triumph versus Musselman’s Joey Miller.
“I was kind of hoping I wasn’t going to be the first match this year. I was the first match last year and it didn’t exactly go my way,” said Roberts, last winter’s 120-pound state runner-up.
“I knew last night in the second session I was going first, but it was pretty cool though. Being the first person and you just like to get it over with and start of my team. This feels great. I’ve been ready for that since February 25th last year. I knew it was going to happen eventually and sooner the better.”
After that came the first all-Wood County showdown between PHS’ Bo Moler and South’s Gavin Quiocho. Moler, who lost the city dual meeting 11-5, was looking for his second straight victory after defeating Quiocho at the regional via a 5-3 overtime decision.
Quiocho used a third period escape and then a stall point to secure a 4-3 decision.
“I wanted to be as ready as possible and I thought about it (the overtime loss) for two weeks,” Quiocho said.
“It feels amazing. I’m in a little competition with my brother (Jordan) to see if I could pass him and he never had a state title.”
Two Wood County grapplers also looking for their first state mat titles were PHS 145-pound senior Stephen Carder, last year’s state runner-up in that weight class, and Parkersburg South 220-pound Ironman champion Braxton Amos.
The sophomore Amos had no problem versus second-ranked Ripley senior BJ Haynes, who lost by fall in the regional in 47 seconds. Haynes gave it his best effort, but Amos was too much en route to capping a 48-0 campaign when he pinned Haynes in 3:15.
“He’s a tough competitor. He definitely adjusted to what I did last time,” Amos said. “He works hard and he’s a good kid and it was tough training for him and going out with the right mind set to do what I needed to do against him.”
Carder concluded his final year with the red and white by going 32-3 and putting on a dominating effort against Wheeling Park sophomore Andrew Shelek in what turned out to be a 10-2 major decision.
“It feels amazing, but I was pretty nervous going into the match,” admitted Carder. “I hadn’t seen him wrestle. I didn’t know what to really look for. I went out there and wrestled my match. It’s the best feeling in the world. There’s nothing like it.”
It was an all-Ohio Valley Athletic Conference rematch in the 160-pound championship as South’s Zane Hinzman was looking to avenge a 2-1 overtime setback to John Marshall’s Anthony Carman, who also lost to the Patriot this season.
Hinzman, last year’s 152-pound state runner-up, made a takedown with 12 seconds left in the opening period stand as he picked up his first state crown via a 3-1 decision.
Wood County had a couple other chances to bring back some hardware, but came up short.
PHS 106-pound sophomore Garret Donahue trailed 21 ticks in after allowing a takedown. Although he tied it midway through the second with a takedown of his own, St. Albans’ Thomas Hartley got a reversal 14 seconds later and secured his first title via a 5-2 decision.
It was a tough-luck loss for Patriot 120-pounder Tucker Windland. The junior led 2-1 versus University’s Jake Staud, but the Hawk saved his best for last and got the winning takedown with three seconds remaining.
Huntington High 182-pounder Zane Lanham, last year’s 152 state champ, doubled up Parkersburg South senior Drew Dunbar, 6-3. Dunbar, who placed third each of the last two years at 160, had previously lost 8-2 in the regional final to Lanham.
Spring Valley heavyweight Owen Porter finished his senior year at 24-0 after surviving an onslaught from Parkersburg South junior Louden Haga, who is thrice a runner-up at heavyweight.
Porter, who is off to Marshall University for football, was credited with a pin in 5:50, but Haga made a desperation move late when he was down 5-4.
Wirt County had the Class A state runner-up team trophy sealed heading into the finals, but the Tigers of head coach Danny Life couldn’t catch Madonna.
Tiger senior 170-pounder Hunter Moore ended his career in style by defeating Nitro’s Vinny Devaney for a fourth time on the season
It definitely wasn’t easy though as the Tiger and Wildcat went into triple-overtime. Moore had the option and took down in the 30-second sudden death and managed to escape for his first state title.
“I’m proud of the team. It’s the most heart I’ve seen from them this year,” said coach Life.
The Little Kanawha Conference’s only other state finalist was St. Marys ninth-grader Wiley Houser, who came up short 7-2 versus East Fairmont 106-pounder Blake Boyers.
Host Huntington won the runner-up triple-A crown with 136 points while the Big Reds of head coach Matt Littleton finished with 113.5.
Also placing from the LKC were Tiger Logan Powell (5th, 106), Blue Devil Antone Herring (4th, 220), Williamstown’s Mason Deem (5th, 132) and two teammates each from Ritchie County — Josh Mason (4th, 182)/Connor Spaulding (5th, 120), Roane County — Jake Whiting (3rd, 145)/Adam Reichard (4th, 152) and Braxton County — Jordan Williams (4th, 170)/Jacob Whitney (6th, 160).
Aside from Parkersburg South’s nine finalists, the Patriots also placed Brayden Johnson (3rd, 113), Zach Collins (3rd, 145) and Devin Easton (5th, 106).
The only other Big Red placer was 195-pounder CJ Wade, who took fifth. Ripley’s Hunter Burdette became a four-time state placeer after taking fifth at 145. Viking teammates Jacob Starkey finished third at 170.