Parkersburg’s Jalen King to wrestle at West Liberty

Photo by Jay W. Bennett Parkersburg High’s Jalen King, pictured here wrestling in the Mountain State Athletic Conference Tournament, has signed to continue his athletic and academic career at West Liberty.

PARKERSBURG — Parkersburg Big Red Jalen King is ready to embark on his next journey in life, which will come this fall when he enrolls at West Liberty University to wrestle for the Division II Hilltoppers of head coach Danny Irwin.

Although King thought about trying to play college football at the next level, the 170-pound Class AAA state runner-up opted for the mat.

“I actually made a couple visits for football earlier in the year before wrestling,” said King, who was a two-year letterman in football and a four-year letterman in wrestling. “West Liberty was one of those schools. Academically, West Liberty was just a really good fit for me and Danny Irwin and his Wheeling Jesuit staff went over to West Liberty.

“I pretty much knew I was going to go to West Liberty so I just visited there (for wrestling). It was a tough decision (leaving football). It’s just my body type. I’m a smaller guy and I’d have to play a lineman and wrestling I just really enjoy it. It was the right decision.”

Irwin, who will be in his first season as the WLU head man, guided Wheeling Jesuit to a national runner-up finish last winter.

King not only carries a 3.75 cumulative GPA, but he also scored a 27 on his ACT and said although his entire school won’t be paid for, he’s in pretty good shape financially.

“My scholarships really helped out,” added King, who said he likely will compete at either 165 or 174. “I haven’t decided completely on a major yet. I’m still working on that.

“I think I’m going to go into my first year undecided. Right now, I’m leaning between biology and a business degree.”

The soon-to-be ex-Big Red said he knows “a couple people going up for football. Ryan Creech, me and him played football together. Zane Hinzman is going up there for wrestling from the southside. Me and him are pretty good friends and there a couple transfers from Wheeling Jesuit.

“Stephen Carder was a state champ (at PHS) my junior year. Just seeing the success that Jared Donahue (All-American), one of my teammates at PHS two years back, seeing the success he’s had with coach Irwin makes me feel real comfortable.”

While nothing is guaranteed for King when he arrives on campus, the plan is to work hard this summer and attempt to make the lineup as a freshman.

“I feel like in college I got to step it up another level,” King added. “I will miss football, but I’m completely decided upon wrestling now.

“Coach Irwin likes to take (wrestlers), even the guys who don’t start, to tournaments and matches instead of just practicing all year.”

King said he didn’t really think about wrestling in college until he was approached by Wheeling Jesuit at this year’s state tournament.

When asked what he’ll remember about his time at PHS he quickly replied “just my teammates, all the practices, I mean everything. These last four years, I’m not going to be able to forget. It’s been awesome.

“It will definitely be hard (leaving PHS), but I’m excited to go up to West Liberty. I’ll still be here over the summer practicing.”