Patriot can claim a fourth state title, Dutton Award
PARKERSBURG — Gavin Quiocho owns a better reason than most winter sports athletes when it comes to why he wants high school wrestling in some form.
After twice beating Parkersburg’s Bo Moler and then besting Wheeling Park’s Stevie Mitchell in three consecutive Class AAA state championship matches, the Patriot senior now eyes his shot at two rare feats: Being a four-time state champion and winning the Robert Dutton Award given annually to the best wrestler in the state.
It is entirely possible both of those could be in his grasp should the season, which W.Va. Gov. Jim Justice, once again delayed, this time until March 1, happen. Not only has he persevered and grown through some hard times in arriving at this opportunity, but according to Parkersburg South head coach Shaun Smith, Quiocho’s always been capable of getting everything done.
Smith went all the way back to Quiocho’s freshman season to explain why. As the Patriots leader remembers it, his wrestler being able to hold his own against reigning state champion Mikey Shamblin really told him something. Of course, there were times the champion got the better of the newcomer, but they weren’t as many as Smith thought there would be. In fact, all Quiocho’s moves, his strength, and wrecking ball mentality just needed a little work, then in Smith’s eyes, his new wrestler “would be a beast.”
Turns out those instincts were correct.
As Quiocho continued to not only wrestle Shamblin, but other accomplished wrestlers in Luke Martin and Jarrett Flinn, he worked his way into the starting lineup. Once there, he didn’t stop until he too was a state champion at the end of the season. And with the other two in his back pocket, it is time to make is move.
Smith, wholeheartedly, is throwing his support behind his likely captain.
“I feel great about his chances,” he said. “I don’t see anyone stopping him. Some of the setbacks he had last year I think he has learned from and he is better for it. I don’t see a situation where he doesn’t come out on top. The bigger than match, the better he is. It is unfortunate it has happened this way with COVID and everything. But I am stoked from him. I have no doubt he will end up getting that fourth state title and the Dutton Award.
Needless to say, these are soaring expectations. Perhaps there’s more attention surrounding Quiocho outside any wrestler other than what three-time state champion East Fairmont’s Blake Boyers is getting.
So, what does Quiocho think about all of this?
Actually, he’s okay with his task.
“After the first state championship, I told myself “Well I have to win every year now,” Quiocho said. “I have the confidence in myself to do these things. I have definitely learned to work hard and push through when times have gotten tough. Wrestling definitely lets you push yourself to your limits.”
Quiocho also was very thankful of his coaches and practice partners for putting him in this position.
“It is amazing having the practice partners and coaches I do. I actually feel really, really lucky. It is great when you have guys in the room that wrestle hard and though we get into it sometimes we are all best friends and love wrestling and it is really helpful when you have kids in the room like that. It helps me improve,” he said.
“From as long as I have known him, he did well in middle school and that carried over to high school, he has always kept improving and always had a great work ethic and he is prepared and earns everything he gets,” Smith said.
Should Quiocho accomplish these feats he would join Justin Allman and David Jeffrey as the only Patriots wrestlers with four state championships. He also would become the third Patriot to win the Dutton Award in the last four years, all of those actually have gone to South.
Of course, just like everyone else in the state, he is awaiting the start of the season as COVID continues to inconvenience everyone. “I am definitely working hard on my own right now. I am not too concerned who I am going to face I am just going to do what I do,” Quiocho said.