POCA - It seems that Herbert Hoover's Josh Mack feels right at home in his new weight class.
The senior earned three more victories, including one over a top-ranked adversary, in the 160-pound weight class in Tuesday's Cardinal Conference championships at Poca High School, a tune-up for next weekend's regionals.
Mack secured two pins and a major decision, which was a 15-3 win over third-ranked Zach Nibert of Point Pleasant. Results for the four-team round-robin format were not available at presstime.
Mack now owns a 39-2 record and came into the Cardinal championships ranked No. 1 in the AA-A 160-pound weight class by wvmat.com. As his prep wrestling career winds down in the next few weeks, culminating with the state tournament Feb. 23-25, Mack's thoughts are turning to a state title.
"To me it's real important,'' said Mack of taking home a championship. "My partner last year [Pat Nary] ended up winning the state tournament and I'd like to follow and get my own title. I've worked a long time. I think the year's gone great. It's been a fun season.''
Mack just missed a state title last year in the 152-pound class, losing by a major decision in the state finals and settling for a runner-up finish and a 46-7 record. He decided to move up to 160 this year so he wouldn't have to worry so much about making weight and the decision has paid off.
"I wanted to still be strong,'' Mack said. "I didn't want to lose my strength. It's a good weight class for me. Some kids are harder to pin and I had to get in really good condition.''
"I don't think he's cutting as much weight this year,'' added Hoover coach Heath Perry. "I think he's more comfortable at 160 than he was at 152. As far as his wrestling goes, I just think being a year older and a year more experienced and he did a lot of offseason wrestling.''
Perry said Mack traveled around the state and region this past spring and summer seeking top competition.
"He wrestled in several open tournaments,'' said the Huskies coach. "He drove to Greenbrier County, Independence, he won a national qualifying tournament in Morgantown and then he went to Pennsylvania and was runner-up. He wrestled at least 15 or 16 matches.''
Perry said Mack's quickness is what sets him apart from the other top-ranked grapplers.