BENNETT: South’s Gage Wright’s 10 second pin one for the record books
It’s not very often in life one gets to see history.
I fully admit watching Aubrey Huff hit for the cycle back in 2007 at Camden Yards was quite the spectacle to take in.
At that time, Huff was just the third Baltimore Oriole to pull off the feat, then joining Cal Ripken Jr., and Brooks Robinson.
However, what I witnessed Tuesday night in the 145-pound Class AAA state championship wrestling match from Parkersburg South freshman Gage Wright was definitely more than one for the ages.
Awaiting his turn in the bullpen to compete for his first state title against Washington’s Kade Bradbury, I was positioned matside getting ready for the action.
Staring back toward the end of Huntington’s Mountain Health Arena, Wright was staying loose and sported his Oklahoma State headgear as well as a long-sleeved white shirt which had South in pink on the front along with a breast cancer awareness logo below it.
Finally, his name was called, he sprinted out and the match started.
Then it was over, a mere 10 seconds.
I couldn’t believe it. I’m not sure many believed it, but since it just happened in front of our very eyes, I suppose seeing really is believing.
Wright said afterward he basically “caught his neck and I just ripped on it as hard as I could, and he went straight to his back so I just hung on to it.”
Needless to say, Patriot mat boss Shaun Smith was beside himself.
“I would be hard-pressed to think there’s anyone who got a 10 second pin in the state finals,” said the coach.
After some thorough research of my own along with getting plenty of help from wrestling aficionados Jenny Hannan and Rick Parks, coach Smith was 100% correct.
No one has sniffed anything near a mat slapper in 10 seconds, either in Class AAA or Class AA/A.
In fact, the fastest finals pin of all-time previously came back in 1987 when Wirt County heavyweight Chad Ray flattened Shady Spring’s Drew Skeens in 25 seconds.
The third-fastest time is a 28-second pin in 2015 by George Washington heavyweight David Smith. He was up against Musselman’s Kyle DeGrave.
Fourth on the list is a 35 second pin in 1997 by John Marshall’s Ryan Muldrew to win the 130-pound title against Parkersburg’s Joel Newberry.
Wheeling Park’s Curt Jerrome had a 38 second pin back in 1986 in his 155-pound finals win against Weir’s Mike Underwood.
When asked about his shirt, because I was unable to see if anything was on the back, Wright told me the reverse said, “this one’s for you mawmal.”
The freshman added, “my grandma has breast cancer, and she wasn’t like doing very well and I made sure I won this year for her because her cancer like all went away and it’s starting to come back now.”
I decided to run a few numbers just to see how rare a first period pin actually was.
To make things easier, I opted to start in 1976 and only look at the Class AAA finals since 1975 was the final year of having a single class.
Of note, from 1976 until 1987 the tournament had 12 classes each year and from 1988-1995 there were 13 classes before 14 weight classes came about in 1996.
Including this year’s state tournament, there only have been 30 first period pins in 612 championship matches, resulting in a sub 5% chance of the feat taking place.
Even with that being said, the Mid-Ohio Valley has been known for a few of those early falls.
In 1978, head coach Rod Oldham watched Patriot Danny Underwood finish off Barboursville’s Clint Artrip in 45 seconds to win 138.
Then junior Big Red Doug Rexroad derailed the 29-0 campaign of Jefferson senior John Pringle back in 1989 in just 52 seconds when he won via fall in the 106 finals for the second of his three state crowns for Joe Handlan.
Adam Metz of PSHS stuck Huntington’s Ronnie Luther in 53 seconds for the 125-pound title in 2009.
Ripley’s David Hicks needed 71 seconds to capture the 220-pound crown in 2012 against Washington’s Ashby Heath, but one of my favorites was seeing Lou Thomas cap his Big Red career with a third state title in 2004 via a 64-second mat slapper versus fellow 215-pounder Kenny Hutchinson of Huntington.
It definitely will be interesting to see if Wright can come anywhere close to his mark during the next three years.
For now, he said he’s preparing to head to the Virginia Beach duals and hopes to make it out to Fargo if his knee is feeling better.
As for making quite the first impression in his initial state finals match, Wright added “crazy. I was just blessed to be able to do it.”
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org
All-time top five fastest pins in
W.Va. state tournament history
0:10 — (2021) Gage Wright, Parkersburg South vs. Washington’s Kade Bradbury (145)
0:25 — (1987) Chad Ray, Wirt County vs. Drew Skeens, Shady Spring (285)
0:28 — (2015) David Smith, George Washington vs. Kyle DeGrave, Musselman (285)
0:35 — (1997) Ryan Muldrew, John Marshall vs. Joel Newberry, Parkersburg (130)
0:38 — (1986) Curt Jerrome, Wheeling Park vs. Mike Underwood, Weir (155)