WILLIAMSTOWN - Head wrestling coach Dennie Uhl's Yellowjackets of Williamstown won't be at full strength Saturday when the Bob Zide Rumble gets under way at 10 a.m.
That's because the Yellowjackets, like most team's throughout the Mountain State, have been dealing with injuries and are trying to get healed up before the postseason is upon them.
"We were healthy until the last two weeks and hit the Winner's Choice and WSAZ," said coach Uhl, whose team had only eight of 12 available wrestlers at a practice earlier this week.
"We are pretty banged up right now. We are trying to get guys healed up now. We have five or six guys in the lineup with legitimate injuries, but we are only holding one of them out."
That one Yellowjacket grappler is Cody Kelley, who is ranked third in the state at 135 and was expected to be one of six wrestlers vying for back-to-back Bob Zide Rumble individual titles.
"Cody is real banged up with a bad shoulder," Uhl stated.
"We pulled him out the first night at the WSAZ.
"We're going to hold him out. We're banged up in a lot of spots, but not very many in the state aren't banged up."
Aside from Kelley, sixth-ranked 215-pounder Yellowjacket teammate Matt Hendrickson is seeking back-to-back BZR crowns.
Defending tournament champion Wirt County, which bested University 195-177 last winter, has two wrestlers looking for consecutive crowns in top-ranked heavyweight Eric Young and sixth-ranked 119-pounder Jon Cain.
Weir's Jess Bennett, ranked fourth at 145, along with expected 189-pound state champion C.D. Cox of St. Marys are the other two.
Also of note, second ranked 145-pounder David Schlieper of Cameron won a crown at this tournament two years ago, but lost a 2-1 decision last winter to now graduated Tyler George of Williamstown.
The complete field of teams for the BZR includes the host Yellowjackets, Wirt County, St. Marys, Weir, Cameron, St. Albans, East Fairmont, Wheeling Central, Parkersburg Catholic, Wahama and Ravenswood.
"I've been impressed with these guys this year, especially the younger guys," said Uhl, whose team has had to forfeit both 152 and 160 all year.
"Dalton George (ranked 4th at 103) and Jake Tracewell (140) have always been successful, but coming into this level they've had immediate success. They've got a lot to learn, but they are doing pretty well."
Williamstown also has three other wrestlers ranked in the top eight of the latest state rankings in heavyweight Tom Collins (fourth), 130-pounder Zach Zide (fifth) and 112-pounder Blake Williams (seventh).
Coach Uhl, who noted the tournament should be, "pretty competitive," also wants fans to know the annual pancake breakfast is back again this year.
For a cost of $5, and anyone wishing to eat may do so without paying admission to the tournament if they aren't attending, you can get the all-you-can eat pancake breakfast which features eggs, sausage and bacon from 7-10 a.m. in the school cafeteria.