GW gets third straight county wrestling crown
NITRO, W.Va. -- George Washington received a nice boost heading into next weekend's regional wrestling tournament.
The Patriots produced five champions Saturday to capture the team title for the third year in a row at the third Kanawha County Championships at Nitro High School.
Class AAA GW scored 115 points followed by AA Herbert Hoover (99), AA Sissonville (78), AAA Nitro (59), AAA Riverside (48), AAA South Charleston (18) and AAA St. Albans (18). (See Page 2D for team scores and results.)
The Patriots' Philip Sharp won the 106-pound weight class, with teammates David Pancake (126), Jensen Lorea (132), Jake Smith (160) and Hunter Jones (170) also taking titles.
"What I got out of this was these guys are fighters,'' said GW coach Richard Harper of his squad. "My heavyweight was sick so we knew we had to move some kids around to score some points. I had another kid that was hurt, but he taped himself up and wrestled. A couple other ones that were sick wrestled.
"From 106 to 138 we moved everybody up a weight class. They ended up scoring us about another extra 10 points. For those kids to step up like that says a lot about them, their toughness and mentality. I couldn't be happier with them. It's always nice to win a tournament no matter which one it is. It's always nice for the kids' morale. That gets our young kids excited and hopefully start peaking and feeling better for next weekend.''
Hoover's Camren Duncan (113), Zane Weese (220) and Richard Woods (285) won titles.
"We got a chance to get some live action and not have four or five tough matches in one day,'' said Hoover coach Heath Perry. "That's [one of] the reasons we started [the county tournament], to give us a chance to see live action, but not really get our feet in the fire the week before the regionals.''
Other winners included Nitro's Geoffrey Bevil (120) and Ryan Walters (195), Sissonville's Jacob Fisher (138) and Nick Lane (145), South Charleston's Fred Crowser (152) and St. Albans' Akeem Brown (182).
Harper said the coaches began the county championships in hopes of giving wrestling a higher profile in the Kanawha Valley. There were no ranked teams in the coaches association-wvmat.com polls at the Kanawha County Championships and only GW's Smith (AAA, 160) and Hoover's Woods (AA, 285) were ranked atop their weight class.
"I think overall we're getting better every year,'' said the GW coach. "I think Hoover's right there, GW's right there and Riverside had a pretty full team. A couple of teams are down with numbers.''
"It's about the same as it was when I first started,'' added Perry, who is in his third year with the Huskies program. "We've got some really good kids, we just don't have enough of them.''
Harper said he is seeing the sport heading in the right direction in the Valley.
"I do think St. Albans in the next few years, they've got that [youth] program that will eventually benefit them so I'm hoping other guys will start catching up,'' he said. "Then we've got that club downtown that a lot of these kids are going to so they're getting a little extra bit of wrestling here and there.
"I'm seeing a little more commitment from the kids in the area. I hope down the road that's going to make everybody better. It would be nice to stay home every now and then and wrestle in the Valley and get some good competition.
"We spend so much money traveling to wrestle tough competition that I spend half my time raising money instead of coaching. We've got some good kids in this area. We don't get the credit we deserve. I'm hoping to change that mentality. All we can do is keep working.''
Reach Tommy R. Atkinson at email@example.com or 304-348-4811.