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Four W.Va. grapplers receive national recognition

Quartet named among the best from past high school season

PARKERSBURG — Two respected wrestling websites honored a quartet of Mountain State wrestlers in their 2019-20 final national high school rankings.

Parkersburg South’s Braxton Amos and Brayden Roberts, Parkersburg High’s John Martin Best, and Oak Glen’s Peyton Hall all placed in the top 100 on the end of season lists compiled by Intermat.com and FloWrestling.cm.

Aoms claimed the No. 1 spot in both lists, as well as in the 220-lbs. weight class. His accolades proved too much to ignore in the decision-making process. The Patriot senior recently completed a third consecutive undefeated season with a third straight Class AAA state championship. This came on top of his Powerade and Ironman championships. These accomplishments then brought him further acknowledgment in post-season awards. The Wisconsin commit became the state’s first-time back-to-back and multi-time recipient of the Robert R. Dutton Award, given annually to the best wrestler in the state. But, the accolades didn’t end there as Intermat.com and Matscout.com also named him their national wrestler of the year.

Roberts, who committed to West Virginia University last November, finished 48th (Flowrestling)/60th (Intermat) in the overall rankings and fifth in the 152-lbs. weight class (Flowrestling). He experienced little trouble in his new class after winning the 145-lbs. title as a junior. His 18-5 major decision over Parkersburg High’s Noah Inboden gave him the 2019-20 Class AAA state championship. This victory also crowned him a state champion for the third time in as many seasons and in as many weight classes (126, 145, and 152).

Away from the national scene, the duo received praise Parkersburg South head coach Shaun Smith for their leadership of a young team this past season. “I could not have asked for better leadership from the senior class this season,” Smith stated in several interviews during the season. “It was fun to watch that and fun to watch them wrestle.”

Best, who is headed to the Air Force Academy, ranked 59th/83rd overall and sixth in the 160-lbs. weight class. His final resume included a Class AAA state championship at 160 after his three-minute pin of Cabell Midland’s Nate Neale, as well as a victory over Hall. These performances earned him a third-place finish in the Dutton Award voting.

PHS head coach Matt Littleton said it will be tough to lose a wrestler like Best.

“He just had a determination to get better every single day regardless of who you put in front of him. He never backed down from a challenge and always wanted to continuously get better. He always asked ‘What can I do today to be better than I was yesterday?’ Not many kids think that way and it is why I think he has done what he is done and has been one of the best in the country,” he said.

Though not in Wood County, Hall constructed a resume similar to his Wood County brethren. Not only did the Golden Bear claim his fourth straight Class AA/A state championship with his 2:34 pinfall over Point Pleasant’s Wyatt Wilson, he also defeated future WVU roommate Roberts in a 3-2 decision in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference championship finals. He finished the year with a 49-2 record as well as a second straight Dutton Award runner-up finish. Hall placed 31st/29th overall and fourth in his weight class.

Former Parkersburg High wrestling coach Chris Way believes this is the most accomplished rankings since 2005. Brandon Rader (PHS), Chance Litton (PHS), Andy Thomas (PHS), Mitch Smith (Ripley) and Codi Norman (South) constructed a similar cumulative resume. Rader and Litton brought senior national wins to the table. Thomas and Smith added victories at Fargo, with Smith also placing at senior nationals, while Norman finished in a high spot. Each also won state championships in their respective weight classes.

Flowrestling and Intermat base their rankings on a grading system and opinions from top wrestling evaluators around the nation.

Contact Joe Albright at jalbright@newsandsentinel.com.

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