ALBRIGHT: Is Amos the greatest wrestler this state has seen?
Three years ago, West Virginia’s most recent and perhaps permanent face of high school wrestling walked onto the mat as a sophomore clad in a Parkersburg South uniform.
He was fresh faced, eager and more than prepared.
Awaiting him was 220-pound senior Dylan Miller from Wadsworth High School out of Ohio.
Each man stood chiseled.
They locked hands with scowls adorning their faces on a day two of the top wrestling programs in two states collided at St. Edward High School in Lakewood, Ohio.
The hype for this match reached higher than any other.
Braxton Amos’ reputation preceded him. His legend spread throughout the Mountain and Buckeye State over the course of the past several years. Winning everything there is at the junior level and being established in the national picture tended to draw a crowd. South fans, heck wrestling fans, also eagerly awaited the commencement of the stellar varsity career destined for this young man.
Amos’ stubborn ACL finally healthy meant it was go time, too.
Could the rumors be true? He really was as good as everyone said he was? The fanfare wouldn’t be a problem at all?
His countdown to an initial answer ended in 56 seconds. Miller barely stood a chance as Amos pinned him to the mat.
This fall launched Amos’ follow-up responses quite thoroughly through the realm of awesome. Calling it anything else makes zero sense. Only one word fits the description of his next three years: mythic.
Yes, Braxton Amos lived up to the hype.
All of it.
Every last bit.
Any question imaginable was fully answered.
And because he dominantly responded to every query, another one emerged shortly after his tech fall of Wheeling Park’s Charlie Tamburin in Amos’ third straight Class AAA state championship match and win Saturday in Huntington: Is he the greatest high school wrestler this state has ever seen?
The short answer? Yes.
The long answer? Bring before the Patriot your best retort to this question. Select anyone from Harrisville’s 1938 team to today.
“Without a doubt he is the greatest wrestler to ever come out of Parkersburg South and the state, too. This state has produced a lot of great ones but there is just no comparison. I am not trying to downgrade anyone from the past, but he has not already accomplished major things but he is going to accomplish even bigger things and I have no doubt that is going to happen,” said Parkersburg South head coach Shaun Smith, an NCAA Division I wrestler at Liberty in his own right, as well.
Of course, basing this outcome on just one state championship or feelings, along with his coach’s words doesn’t quite get the point entirely across. More numbers exist then just one. All of which read just as impressive as his three state championships.
In fact, there may be no getting around the first four pieces of evidence.
Over 142 career matches, he lost none. Some of those even featured him having spent zero time on the mat. It says something when competitors refuse to face someone. Fear of injury, not wanting to look silly, and his mere presence on the mat all were factors. But those are the stories no one forgets. Just another forfeit turns into a memorable anecdote.
Digging deeper unearths a few more impressive trinkets. His six titles against out-of-state competition at the prestigious Ironman and Powerade tournaments are four more than anyone else in the Mountain State.
Also, to be considered is this: 91 of all his victories came by pin fall.
Our exploration through the Russian nesting doll hasn’t ended. Inside those matches, the last 19 of those against in-state competition included zero offensive points allowed.
In fact, his defense remained superb throughout this past season. Offensive scoring stood as a no-go against the senior Patriot.
Another achievement likely adding a second Robert Dutton Award, awarded to the best wrestler in the state, in his trophy case. Oh, By the way if he does win, it would mark the first time anyone twice won the award.
Ending the hoopla there makes no sense. His possible capturing of the Hardman Award, as the best amateur athlete in the state, as genuinely legitimate is no bull or a pipe dream. The sports writers may exclusively honor the top college player with this award. Or have since its introduction. But the whispers exist. And are growing louder.
Not as in your face is his work with his South teammates. “Braxton, specifically, has done an awesome job working with Oscar Lemus, Noah Buckelew and Gabe Hendershot. He took time away from his training to push them and help them along the way,” said Smith. “I couldn’t ask for more than what he has put into the South program.”
Separating him from his peers here is the value he places on practice.
Possessing Olympic aspirations don’t achieve themselves. The Russians, Kazakhs, and Turks never take a day off and neither does he.
His desire for success however doesn’t dominate his every move. His concern for the health of the sport and those who pass through his life on the Patriots matter to him. Something setting him apart from his peers.
Now, some people may not like the fact he didn’t win four state titles. Really? Little doubt should exist at this point. All Amos did was win.
And, it is all he plans to do at the University of Wisconsin and beyond.
Each and every accomplishment adding to the resume of the greatest wrestler ever from the state of West Virginia.
Contact Joe Albright at email@example.com.