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Regional wrestling action set to begin Saturday at PHS

Parkersburg’s George Cantwell, left, is pictured here trying to get near fall points against Hurricane’s Lucas Talley at last year’s Mountain State Athletic Conference championship meet. Cantwell has the No. 3 seed at 113 while Talley is the No. 2 seed at 126 for Saturday’s Class AAA, Region IV tournament at Memorial Fieldhouse. (Photo by Jay W. Bennett)

PARKERSBURG — Upsets in sports go hand-in-hand and there’s likely to be plenty this weekend as regional wrestling tournaments get underway throughout the Mountain State both today and Saturday.

Starting at 11 a.m. Saturday inside Parkersburg’s Memorial Fieldhouse, the Big Reds of head coach Matt Littleton will be the host site for the Class AAA, Region IV tournament, which will have the Wood County mat championships following.

At 3:30 p.m. today, second-ranked Class A St. Marys and head man Jay D. Smith will make the trek to the Fairmont Armory, which has action resuming at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, to compete in the Class AA/A, Region I tournament.

PHS heavyweight Jeffery Jones (17-0) is the lone top-seeded Big Red, but Littleton’s squad has a No. 2 seed from 195-pounder Zach Howard, three seeds from George Cantwell (113), Bryant Walker (170) and Jacob McCune (220) along with a pair of No. 4 seeds in Carter King (152) and Michael Owen (182).

“No 138 or no 145,” admitted Littleton of his 12-man regional squad. “We had one (Tyler Bohn at 138) get hurt and broke his hand.”

Big Red 120-pound freshman Braycon Hedges, who has Huntington’s Joe Riggs in his opener, along with 160-pound sophomore Mason Merrifield, who faces Ripley’s Isaac Parsons for his first match, are both in five-man brackets.

“They met in the dual on March 30 and he pinned us so obviously he’ll look to get some revenge there,” Littleton said of Hedges. “He’s got to win that one or another one along the road to qualify.

“Mason fell to Parsons, 4-3, and he had just gotten his COVID shot that morning. We are hoping to get a little more action out of him than what we saw that night.”

The coach noted of Jones “obviously heavyweight sometimes anything can happen. Jeffery is wrestling really well right now. I think he’s pinned everybody he’s wrestled this year.”

Although Parkersburg South, which boasts nine top seeds in Brady Roberts (106), Brent Bosley (113), Devin Easton (120), Trent Jones (132), Brayden Johnson (138), Gage Wright (145), Robert Shockey (152), Gavin Quiocho (160) and 220-pounder Noah Buckalew, is expected to roll to the regional crown, coach Littleton is anxious to see how his team has progressed.

Also competing for the Big Reds on Saturday will be 106-pounder Landon Burnisde, 126-pounder Levi Townsend and 132-pounder Phoenix Sprigg.

“When you get to state anything crazy can happen. The most important this is to get there,” Littleton stressed. “152 to heavyweight this year has been one of our strong points and where we are winning duals late. They just have to show up and wrestle. I think our hope is obviously we get everyone we can through.

“This shortened season anything can happen at this regional tournament. Our focus is getting in the best position to place. We’re a very young team and inexperienced and we didn’t have a long season to get experience. Hopefully, our guys can go out there and get in the fight and make a little noise.”

Ripley’s highest seed comes from senior 113-pounder Nate Cox, who is No. 2 behind the Patriot Bosley.

The Vikings of head man Matt Smith also are expected to qualify Luke Miller (#3 at 132), Hunter Brown (#3 at 152), Nathan Ford (#4 at 126) and Isaac Parsons (#4 at 160).

Also competing for the Jackson County program will be Kain Price (106), Evan Shouldis (138), Eli Koontz (145), Collen Moore (170), Matt Moore (195), 220-pounder Dakota Parsons and heavyweight Andrew Manley.

St. Marys’ lone expected top of the podium finisher is 220-pounder Cody Houser, whose top competition is expected to be No. 2 seed Doneven Clark of Paden City. Clark is the only seeded Wildcat at the regional as PCHS also has Jessup Spragg (126), Evelynn Smith (138) and Rory Amos (182) competing.

“We don’t know anything about him,” coach Smith said of Houser’s potential finals opponent. “We were supposed to (wrestle) but the COVID crap and we didn’t get to do it. He’s only lost two matches. He must be OK.”

The Blue Devils boast a pair of No. 2 seeds in seniors Wiley Houser at 145 and Haiden Davis at 195.

“Haiden wrestled the kid from Oak Glen earlier this year, very competitive match. Anything can happen,” noted coach Smith, who has a No. 3 seed in Brian Rhodes (160) and a No. 4 seed in 170-pounder Brennan Boron.

“Wiley is the two seed based on criteria (last year’s placement). Wiley hurt his back in the regional last year and didn’t qualify. I hope (not getting the top seed) that bothers him where he wants to prove himself a little bit.”

Others looking to finish in the top four of the regional to qualify for state from St. Marys include Chris Andrew (113), Wesley Scoggan (126), Noah Wince (132), Peyton Girard (152), Cyle West (182) and heavyweight Ben Wagstaff.

“Wagstaff’s a freshman and was an LKC middle school champ last year and was runner-up at the Wood County Middle School (championships),” Smith added. “I think they know what’s awaiting them tomorrow and Saturday.

“You got the opportunity to do well and to do what your supposed to do. When you go up there, I mean it’s just a difficult region to get through. If you get through it you’ve done something.”

Joining Paden City and St. Marys at the Region I meet are Tyler Consolidated, which features the only other Mid-Ohio Valley top seed in 160-pound sophomore Trenton Huffman, as well as Magnolia.

The Blue Eagles have expected regional qualifiers in Jordon Davis (#2 at 138) and Alan Collins (#4 at 126) along with unseeded grapplers Lucas Zombotti (113), Alan Jones (120), Gage Scott (145), Sam Zombotti (152), Austin Stillwagoner (160), Caleb Lawrence (170 and Xavier Walters (220).

Joining Huffman as seeded Silver Knights will be Kaden Huffman (#2 at 113), Sean Winfrey (#2 at 152), Danny McCune (#4 at 106) and fourth-seeded heavyweight Raustyn Wade. Also hoping to make a break through in their respective brackets for TCHS are Marques Jackson (120), Landen Miller (126), John Headley (132), Bruce Garuccio (138), Kendall Huffman (170), Mya Anderson (182), Case Landis (195) and 220-pounder Donald Shields.

NOTE: Parkersburg South regional preview will appear in the weekend edition of the News and Sentinel.

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