CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- In a year of firsts for Winfield's athletic program, this is a pretty big step.
The Generals will compete in their first Mountain State Athletic Conference wrestling tournament Saturday at Parkersburg High School, knocking heads with what should be a powerful field.
"Kind of anxious and exciting and a little bit nervous,'' said Winfield coach Mike Cochran, "because there's a lot of good competition up there, some really good wrestlers. We've got some good guys, too, but this is a good chance to measure where we stand with all those elite guys.''
Two of the state's top three Class AAA teams head the field for the MSAC meet - No. 1 Huntington and No. 3 Ripley. Winfield and Cabell Midland have also been ranked this season, while George Washington and Parkersburg also sport some of best individual talent in West Virginia. The Highlanders are the defending conference champions.
Cochran said the MSAC meet allows coaches like himself to formulate a game plan for the regional meets, which are set for the weekend of Feb. 15-16 around the state.
"That's exactly it,'' Cochran said. "We've wrestled the Huntington guys twice for the most part, but we've not wrestled Ripley or Parkersburg and they'll be there, and those are two very tough teams. It's a good chance to see where we fit in the mix. Parkersburg and Ripley aren't in our region, but it's a good measuring stick for us.''
GW coach Richard Harper pointed out that some of the weight classes in the MSACs tell wrestlers a lot about their postseason chances.
His 126-pounder, Jensen Lorea, is ranked No. 7 by the West Virginia Wrestling Coaches Association/wvmat.com, and three of the athletes ahead of him in the rankings should also be participating in Parkersburg - No. 2 Lucas Simpkins (Ripley), No. 4 Bryce Humphreys (Winfield) and No. 5 Chase Childers (Huntington).