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Area wrestlers gear up for 74th annual state tournament

Parkersburg’s Jeffery Jones wrestles his opponent in the 285-pound Class AAA Region IV title match on April 10 at PHS’s Memorial Fieldhouse. (Photo by Josh Hughes)

PARKERSBURG — Things are going to be quite different for the 74th annual West Virginia state wrestling championships set to take place Monday through Thursday inside Huntington’s Mountain Health Arena.

As opposed to having a three-day tournament with Saturday night culminating in the parade of champions, Class AAA will take place on Monday and Tuesday with Class AA/A going the next two days.

Continued health regulations in the Mountain State have already caused issues and disappointment.

Parkersburg South sophomore heavyweight Demetrius Gearheart, who advanced to the big show after being the sixth seed in the regional, is out of the tournament along with the entire Bridgeport High School team due to contact tracking.

“That was my understanding. He was too close to the kid for too long (at school) and the kid tested positive. He’s out. It’s crazy,” said Patriot boss Shaun Smith of his team taking a baker’s dozen to Huntington as opposed to 14.

“That (Bridgeport) situation is even more devastating, I think. It sucks and I haven’t had the chance to really talk to Demetrius and see where he’s at. I feel awful for him.”

Parkersburg High School heavyweight Jeffery Jones actually benefits on paper from the Indians been eliminated since Kamar Summers had the No. 1 raking in the final coaches’ poll with the Big Red sitting at No. 2.

“Absolutely, that definitely changes the bracket a little bit,” noted Big Red head man Matt Littleton.

“We shouldn’t see the (Wheeling) Park kid (Charles Tamburin) until the finals. We’ll get the University kid (Corbin Turney) in the quarterfinals.”

Parkersburg South is expected to roll to its seventh consecutive triple-A crown while the Big Reds didn’t receive a top 10 vote in the final poll.

“I don’t think we got the best pill pick for us, but when you get to the state tournament you are going to have to beat a couple people,” added coach Littleton. “Being a young team, I think we have the ability and capability to get that done (top 10 finish). It’s about getting down there and putting ourselves in a position to win those matches.”

Jones is the lone Big Red ranked first or second and no grapplers from Ripley made the final top two spots.

Devin Easton (120), Trent Jones (132), Gage Wright (145) and 160-pounder Gavin Quiocho are the favorites for Parkersburg South in their respective weight classes. Ranked second going into the final tournament of the year for the Patriots are Brady Roberts (106), Brayden Johnson (138) and 220-pounder Noah Buckalew.

Point Pleasant is expected to dominate the field once again in Class AA and in the race for the single-A crown it’s once again Greenbrier West which is predicted to top the final standings.

Chasing the Cavaliers will be No. 2 Wirt County, No. 3 St. Marys, No. 4 Moorefield and No. 5 Doddridge County.

Fellow Little Kanawha Conference members Ritchie County (8th) and Tyler Consolidated (9th) also ended the year in the top 10 while Williamstown also received votes.

Braxton County was fourth in the final Class AA team poll and Clay County was 10th.

Since the LKC championship never happened this year, the coaches agreed whichever team has the highest finish as the state tournament will be awarded the conference title.

“LKC is not even on our mind. Everything we do is for state,” admitted Wirt County head coach Danny Life, whose highest ranked grappler is senior 160-pounder Logan Powell (No. 2).

No area small school program has an expected state champion according to the rankings, but St. Marys features second-ranked 145-pound senior Wiley Houser.

“It’s one of those things where it just stinks,” admitted Blue Devil boss Jay D. Smith of the conference not having its annual tournament. “I don’t think we’ve won it in over 30 year. It’s definitely on our minds going down there.”

Also ranked second from the Mid-Ohio Valley is Ritchie County 113-pound senior Brady Layman, Doddridge County 152-pound senior Reese Burnside, Clay County senior heavyweight Colton Casto along with the Braxton County quartet of junior 182-pounder Colton Moore and senior teammates Justin Paletti (170), Logan Conley (195) and Sturgis May (220).

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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