South’s Gage Wright coming off successful summer
PARKERSBURG — Gage Wright enjoys the challenge of competition.
The Parkersburg South freshman is back focusing on the gridiron now with second-year Patriot boss Nathan Tanner, but he just finished off a quite successful summer wrestling season.
For the second time in his mat career, Wright earned the coveted Trinity Award, where grapplers must win their weight class at three tournaments — the Tulsa Kickoff Classic, the Tulsa Nationals and the Reno Worlds, which were moved from Nevada to Tulsa due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“It’s a pretty amazing thing to have such a great wrestler of this caliber coming in with Gage as we just lost one in Braxton (Amos),” stated PSHS head mat coach Shaun Smith. “Definitely a blessing on both ends.”
Wright said he didn’t have too much trouble winning at the Kickoff Classic, but after pinning his way to the finals at the 65th Tulsa Nationals he had a tough finals tussle.
“I went to overtime and took the kid down to win,” Wright said of his 11-9 victory, which set him up for the third and final leg of going after the Trinity Award.
The Patriot was quick to point out his 137-pound class at Reno Worlds “was a lot harder. My quarterfinal match I beat the kid in overtime by two. I took him down. He was a two-time state champ from Maryland.
“My semifinal match was a California state placer in high school and I pinned him. In my finals match was a Tennessee state champ and I won 3-2 in the third period.”
With football season and all fall sports still up in the air, Wright said he was just glad to have the opportunity to compete.
“Reno wouldn’t allow them to have it because of COVID,” added Wright, who noted the wrestling official had to wear a mask and wrestlers had to don them after leaving the mat.
The plan to join Amos as the only Mountain State wrestler to ever capture two Trinity Awards started last summer.
“My dad said we are going to go out so I started training for it,” Wright said. “I started going to Columbus with this team (Miron Wrestling).
“I basically trained every weekend, like a camp. Braxton went there before, too. That’s where he trained all the time when he was little.”
Wright’s final title came at 137 pounds last Sunday, but he figures he’s likely to compete at 145 with the Patriots.
“The cut to 137 was pretty hard because I weigh 152 right now,” he said.
Currently, Wright is working with the varsity football squad and is fighting for playing time at wide receiver and cornerback.
“I’m anxious to be able to work with him as well as the rest of the team,” coach Smith continued. “Obviously, coming in there are a lot of high hopes for Gage as he has more or less dominated on every level thus far. I have no doubt that will continue as he rises to our program.
“I’m hopeful that the coaches, teammates and myself will be able to get him to an even higher level as he progresses from year to year. He is an exceptional and special talent so I’m confident that he will be integral in the development of his teammates as well.”
One thing Wright doesn’t like very much is needing extra time on the mat to get the job done.
“If I go into overtime it just tells me I need to go back in the practice room and start working more and putting in more work so it doesn’t happen again,” Wright admitted. “It tells me other kids are working just like me.”
A 10-time youth state champ and a three-time top of the podium finisher at the WSAZ championships, Wright said his downstairs “is pretty much full of trophies on one side of it.
“It’s basically like scattered through the house. One side of my room I have all my special trophies.”
As much as he’s looking forward to the start of football season, Wright also can’t wait for wrestling to get underway.
“I hope to be a state champ and maybe nationally ranked and win at Ironman,” Wright said of his goals this winter, which includes winning a bet with his head coach. “If I win at Powerade then he has to get a perm like mine.”
When asked if coach Smith had the hair for it, Wright quipped “Yeah, he’ll grow it out. I told him he has to keep his beard.”
Contact Jay Bennett at email@example.com