Numerous wrestlers from the Mid-Ohio Valley made the trek to Virginia Beach at the end of last month.
The hope for grapplers from across the country was to finish in the top eight of their weight class within their own grade level in order to claim All-American status at the NHSCA High School Wrestling Championships.
As it turned out, only two wrestlers from our area who went managed to bring home All-American honors.
One was Roane County 10th-grader Cam Moore, who produced a 7-2 record and finished seventh in the 113-pound weight class. As a Raider, all Moore did was go 43-3 en route to winning the Class AA/A state mat crown at 113.
In Virginia, Moore started the meet with a 7-1 loss to Missouri's Josh McClure, who went on to win the 113-pound sophomore nationals.
The other local to earn a podium finish was Parkersburg South 145-pound freshman Hunter DeLong.
Currently playing for the Patriot baseball team of head coach Matt Null as an infielder/pitcher, DeLong headed to Virginia Beach last month with a lot to prove.
While going back and looking at a few things on Tim Miller's wvmat.com page, I came across an interesting fact.
Would anyone care to guess how many freshman wrestlers placed in the top six during this year's Class AAA portion of the state tournament?
Call me surprised, but the answer was just three and two are from here. There was DeLong's teammate Justin Allman, a state champion at 182, along with Parkersburg 106-pound state runner-up Jared Donahue and Huntington's Ryan Mills, who finished sixth at Virginia Beach in the 195-pound freshman nationals.
DeLong truly had an interesting freshman season to say the least.
He joined Allman in collecting an Ohio Valley Athletic Conference individual title, but his showing at the state tournament in Huntington was just 1-2, losing his first match to Buckhannon-Upshur senior Matt Fair and then falling to Huntington senior Paden Christian in a tough 4-3 battle which eliminated him.
"I don't know. I didn't wrestle good and it was kind of embarrassing," DeLong admitted of what transpired in Huntington.
At the nationals, DeLong fell 11-6 in the quarterfinals of his 47-man bracket to Kentucky's Max Andreoni, who eventually lost 3-2 in the finals to champion Bryan McLaughlin of New Jersey.
"I could beat him on his feet, but he was beating me on top and bottom," DeLong said of his match versus Andreoni, where he tried a desperation move in the third period which didn't work out in his favor.
Despite the initial setback, DeLong learned from his experience in Huntington and finished strong, pinning three of his final four opponents and securing 145-pound freshman All-American honors by winning the consolation bracket and placing third.
"I kind of got the nerves out and all that and got that out of the way and I kind of expect it now (to do well)," DeLong added.
Needless to say, DeLong should be a strong contributor for the Patriot wrestlers the next three years.
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org