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Parkersburg South’s Gage Wright earns national mat title

Parkersburg South’s Gage Wright won the 170-pound championship at the NHSCA Virginia Beach high school nationals last weekend. (Photo Provided)

PARKERSBURG — Last weekend proved to be a good one on the wrestling mats for Parkersburg South sophomore Gage Wright.

A two-time individual champion for the Patriots of head coach Shaun Smith, Wright joined several other area grapplers at the NHSCA Virginia Beach high school nationals.

Wright, who was competing at 170 in the sophomore division, emerged with a 6-0 record and earned his first career All-American status.

“I was practicing with Robert Shockey getting ready for it,” said Wright of his teammate who also competed at 170 but went 0-2. “It was pretty nice down there.

“There was a lot of good competition. My quarterfinal match (a 7-3 win versus Cole Bartram) was a pretty tight match against a kid from Pennsylvania.”

The Patriot, who was the only area wrestler to finish in the top eight to earn All-American honors, said he was losing in the match at one point.

“It was frustrating. I got punched in the eye and I told the ref I couldn’t see,” added Wright, who eventually used a cradle to take control of the match.

Wright had two pins and a pair of decisions to reach the semifinals where he used 1:57 to stick Anders Thompson of Flathead High School in Montana.

“The other kid I went all three periods, but I ended up beating him 13-2 in the finals,” Wright said of his major decision against Elijah Penton of Winter Springs, Fla.

“I got to walk around a lot. It was too cold down there to do anything really.”

Although he said he was going to take the next two or three weeks off from wrestling before he gets back at it, the sophomore is trying something different in the meantime.

“He just was basically asking if I wanted to try it, so I said why not,” Wright said of Dawghouse Promotions’ Mike Sheppard, who is having Southside Rumble 7 on Saturday, April 9 at the Rod Oldham Athletic Center.

Wright is set to make his USA Boxing amateur debut at the show.

“I’ve been training for less than two weeks, probably,” admitted Wright. “I just kind of wanted to try it because everyone said I’d be good at MMA. I just wanted to see if I can take hits.”

Speaking of hits, the Patriot is also at a crossroads or sorts.

“I don’t really know if I should play football or if I should focus on wrestling since I’m doing so well with it right now,” he said. “I think the thing that really draws me to the sport, it’s you versus someone else.

“It’s not so much team-wise and basically if you put in the work you will succeed and you don’t have to worry about others putting in the work.”

Along with having a goal of trying to put more muscle on during the offseason, Wright added “my parents aren’t very tall so I don’t know how much more I’m going to grow.”

Overall, Wright was more than content with his showing in Virginia Beach and was glad to represent the Mountain State.

“If felt really good to do that because I’ve been putting in a lot of work,” Wright continued. “It’s always good to be able to go out there and get West Virginia on the map.”

Contact Jay Bennett at jbennett@newsandsentinel.com

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