PARKERSBURG - A new champion will be crowned Saturday night in Class AA/A when the 66th annual West Virginia state wrestling tournament concludes inside Huntington's Big Sandy Super Store Arena.
Three-time defending state champion Point Pleasant has moved to the Class AAA ranks and that means someone new is going to be bringing home the hardware.
Little Kanawha Conference champion Wirt County, which has 11 qualifiers, is hoping to be in the mix. However, Clay County actually won last Saturday's Region IV crown in Spencer, 218-215.5. A lot of pundits believe this could be the year for Greenbrier West, which qualified a dozen grapplers.
The LKC runner-up Panthers would've joined the Tigers in sending 11 wrestlers, but 170-pound regional runner-up Brandon White was injured and lost for the year, thus allowing Roane County junior Tyler Hammack to move up from fifth place and continue his season.
With action slated to get under way at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, every match is going to be important from the onset of the three-day tournament, which could have squads like East Fairmont, North Marion and Independence vying for state champion and runner-up honors as well.
"I see at least five teams who could win it," said veteran Calhoun County head mat coach Mike Stump, whose team will send seven wrestlers to state and that includes regional heavyweight champion Andrew Satterfield.
Mid-Ohio Valley Class AA/A
Wirt County (11) - Cody Marks (106), Jon Cain (120), Tyler Cheuvront (126), Hagan Root (132), Jake Linville (138), Cody Ferguson (145), Austin Cottrell (152), Walker Siers (182), Caleb Ferguson (195), Dylan Pickrell (220), Skylar Snyder (285)
Clay County (10) - Jack Cummings (106), Justin Triplett (113), Zach Ahart (120), Alex Suite (132), Mitchell Schoolcraft (138), Ausitn Dobbins (145), Ricky Ahart (152), Tyler Stewart (160), Rick Wiseman (182), Wyatt Dawson (220)
Calhoun County (7) - Chris Goad (113), Casey Ritchie (126), Levi Gordon (132), Cole Ritchie (138), David Overbay (152), Austin Satterfield (160), Andrew Satterfield (285)
Roane County (7) - Riley White (106), Cole Moore (113), Cam Moore (120), Luke Scott (152), Joe Copley (160), Tyler Hammack (170), Scott Gibson (195)
Williamstown (7) - Dalton Smith (106), Dalton George (126), Austin Raines (132), Logan Lindsey (138), Jake Tracewell (145), David Hastings (170), Alex Rauch (285)
Ritchie County (6) - Jacob Monn (106), James Davis (113), Andrew Davis (132), Brad Riddle (182), Josh Hart (220), Seth Smith (285)
Braxton County (6) - A.J. Adkins (120), James Accord (132), Bryson Dennison (138), Thomas Simon (152), Lee Helmick (160), Brandon Raynor (195)
Wahama (5) - Randall Robie (126), Kane Roush (160), Crandale Neal (170), Colton Neal (182), Demetrius Serevicz (195)
Magnolia (3) - Gage Deem (160), Jared Wright (195), Tyler Baker (220)
Tyler Consolidated (1) - Joe Henthorn (132)
St. Marys (1) - Mike Houser (170)
Ravenswood (1) - Patrick Berry (170)
"It takes some depth to win the state tournament this day and age. That's how Point Pleasant and Oak Glen were so successful because they had pretty good kids in every weight class."
Wirt County head coach Kenny Dye might not have a full team going to Huntington, but the Tigers are poised and ready to make a run. "I know what I would like for it to be," quipped Dye when asked how he thought the team race might end up. "The boys, you know, they see the opportunity now. They really do.
"We've worked the guts out of them this year and they've been working hard this year. I'm expecting a lot out of our underclassmen at the state tournament."
The Tigers have a trio of regional champions thanks to Jon Cain (12), Hagan Root (132) and Jake Linville (138). Clay County also had three regional champions in Jack Cummings (106), Justin Triplett (113) and Ricky Ahart (152).
Of the eight undefeated wrestlers in the Class AA/A tournament, only one is from the Mid-Ohio Valley and that honor belongs to 29-0 Williamstown junior Dalton George, a regional champion who will be seeking his second career state title. The Yellowjackets also got regional titles from Jake Tracewell at 145 and 170-pounder David Hastings.
Aside from George being undefeated, Greenbrier West teammates Malik Boatwright (152, 38-0) and Tyler Parker (170, 39-0) have perfect marks. The other five grapplers trying to finish an unbeaten season are Grafton's Cody Goff (113, 41-0), North Marion's Ryan Elliott (120, 45-0), Keyser's Garrett Crites (126, 12-0), East Fairmont's Jesse Roman (195, 50-0) and Herbert Hoover 220-pounder Zane Weese (45-0).
"I told the boys (Tuesday) tonight you got to wrestle every match like it's the state finals," added coach Dye. "There are no easy matches at the state tournament. There is a reason those boys are there."
The other regional champions from the Mid-Ohio Valley are Ritchie County 106-pounder Jacob Monn, Braxton County's A.J. Adkins (120), James Accord (132) and Bryson Dennison (138) along with Wahama's Kane Roush (160), Colton Neal (182) and Demetrius Serevicz (195). A dozen teams from the MOV will have at least one wrestler at the state tournament. The only area programs who will take just one grappler are Tyler Consolidated with 132-pounder Joe Henthorn, St. Marys with 170-pounder Mike Houser and Ravenswood, who qualified 170-pounder Patrick Berry.