ELLENBORO — For the third straight year the Greenbrier West wrestling program of head man Jeremy Tincher stood atop the field at the Single-A Challenge, which finished up Saturday evening at Ritchie County, but this time the Cavaliers had to share the top spot after tying Williamstown with 218 points.
Ravenswood, which saw John Heath honored as the Coach of the Year, joined fourth-place Tyler Consolidated (199) with a trio of champs, but the Red Devils just missed out on winning it all after settling for third with 215.
GWHS crowned four champions and that included Most Outstanding Wrestler Cole Vandall, who used 76 seconds to secure a mat slapper in the 215-pound finals against Ravenswood’s Wyatt Milhoan.
“It’s great to come out here and win first again three times in a row,” admitted Vandall. “It’s definitely not as fun to tie, but we had a kid hurt that was sick and not feeling good. That’s my cousin and he scores points for us so that makes a difference.
“We had some kids just in their head come out here wrestling and you’re a little nervous the first time being out here, some freshmen, but we did good and I’m proud of the team no matter what.
We just got some things to work on.”
When asked about his pin the Cavalier replied, “I hooked up a Blair ride and I was trying to run it and he put his hip down so I just put a half in and punched it over and set into like two wings basically and pinned him there. I just look for whatever comes first.”
Greenbrier West’s other three crowns came during the initial trio of watches. Matthew Kestersen recorded a 16-5 major decision against Wirt County’s Matthew Balis, Austin McKenzie secured a win by fall at 113 with 19 ticks left in the match versus Buffalo’s Ben Short and Tucker Lilly needed 3:03 at 120 before sticking South Harrison’s Maddox Lewis.
“Our 165-pounder got sick yesterday and I sent him home today, but Williamstown lost their heavyweight a week or so ago,” admitted coach Tincher, who watched Buffalo (158), Wirt County (128), Doddridge County (125.5), South Harrison (125.5), Wahama (120.5) and St. Marys (97) round out the top 10. “They don’t have everybody either and I still don’t have my heavyweight. I’m a little frustrated honestly. We lost entirely too many one- and two-point matches that we were winning and we ended up getting beat.
“I don’t know what the answer is, but I do know if we don’t get it figured out come March we might not be holding up that trophy. We might not be where we want to be. Right now it’s just a consistency thing. One week four or five of them wrestle really well and the next week it’s a different four or five. It’s just been tough to get this bunch to consistently come out and wrestle every week at a high level and to their capabilities. We got some work to do.”
Williamstown head coach Tyler George was more than amped to share the Single-A Challenge top prize. The ‘Jackets had five fifth-place finishes, one fourth, two thirds and went 1-2 in the finals.
Junior 157-pounder Kipp Freed, who allowed the first takedown to Greenbrier West’s Moses Gray, rallied for a 9-5 championship match win. Freed entered the weekend ranked seventh and Gray was third.
Williamstown’s other two finalists, 132-pounder Samuel Terry and 144-pounder Tyler Newlon both suffered narrow losses. Newlon allowed a takedown just prior to the buzzer at the end of the first and lost 3-1 to Doddridge County’s Noah Wekseth. Terry rallied from a 9-1 deficit against Tyler Consolidated’s Marques Jackson, but came up just short after suffering an 11-10 setback.
“I thought we wrestled great,” admitted coach George. “We got some guys beat up, injured, sick or whatever, but everybody has that stuff and we came out here battling. I’ve been telling these guys for the last couple weeks it’s a team effort. Everyone plays a part in it. We only had one champ and put three in the finals compared to some other teams, but it’s those consolation warriors battling back, pinning guys for bonus points, taking third and fifth. Man, they just kept that momentum going. Really happy with how we performed.
“That’s a big win (for Kipp). He beat us twice last year. I think like 8-0 and maybe he tech falled us so that was kind of a revenge match. I think he’s kind of peaking at the right time. We’re ready to go down to the state tournament and roll the dice. I can’t stress enough how much these guys work in practice and how close they are with each other, and just feeding off each other’s energy. Man, I just admire how hard these kids work. I love it.”
The marquee match of the evening came at 190 pounds where the Class A all-state first team running back duo of Tyler Consolidated’s Sean Winfrey and Wirt County’s Chase Lowe met for the first time on the mat.
Following a scoreless opening period, Lowe took down and was cut at 1:21, which allowed him to carry a 1-0 lead going into the third. The Silver Knight was able to escape and the match was even with 1:27 remaining. Toward the end of the period, Winfrey was able to take a shot and get a takedown with two seconds to go to secure his title via a 3-1 decision.
“I’ve always wrestled Channing,” admitted Winfrey of Lowe’s twin brother. “It’s just been a rough time. No doubt in my mind it’s probably the biggest accomplishment that I’ve done this year. We’ve been back and forth in football and in wrestling. Just the thought that we wrestled and it was that close.
“Just like it was that close for the running back stuff. He’s a good athlete. I’ll give him that, 100%. He’s definitely the hardest athlete I’ve ever played against in anything. Basically, once I got that shot in I was like I’ve always been good at scrambling and I’m like I either catch him or I don’t and I go into overtime.”
TCHS 126-pound teammate Colsen Spragg claimed his crown thanks to registering a 17-3 major decision against Doddridge County’s Kaden Huffman.
Coach Heath watched Red Devils Matt Phelps at 138 (13-5 major vs. Tyler’s Gideon Winfrey), Jacob Bowling at 150 (18-2 technical fall vs. GW’s Joevun Robinson) and 165-pounder Trenton Bush (7-2 decision vs. Buffalo’s Jakob George) stand atop the podium.
Ravenswood also had a chance to capture the heavyweight title with Brian Phelps, who registered a takedown 28 seconds into his title match against St. Marys’ Ben Wagstaff. Despite trailing 2-1 entering the third, Wagstaff was able to get a reversal and then pin Phelps 19 ticks in.
In the 175-pound title match, South Harrison’s Canaan Hitt won via fall with five seconds left in the first period against Wahama’s Seth Ohlinger.
Contact Jay Bennett at firstname.lastname@example.org
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