HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - George Washington got off to a quick start Thursday, the first day of the state wrestling tournament, in more ways than one.
The Patriots advanced four wrestlers into the quarterfinals, tops among Kanawha Valley teams. One of them, Sam Moore, pretty much beat the event's start time in the process.
The 106-pound weight class wrestles first, as always, so those athletes wrestle at the scheduled 6:30 p.m. on day one - or so GW coach Richard Harper thought.
The ultra-efficient folks who run the state tournament at Big Sandy Superstore Arena were so good, they started 9 minutes early. Right after the national anthem stopped echoing, the whistles started and the first four matches in each class hit the mats.
Well, make that the first three in Class AAA.
As a late call for the "late" wrestler echoed throughout the building, Moore had to make a mad dash down a concourse to make his match. He did so, and went on to defeat Point Pleasant's Caleb Leslie in an 8-3 decision.
"We decided to keep our guys back there [in a hallway away from the arena], keep them from the hoopla, watching the kids get beat, crying," Harper said. "These coaches want to try to keep these kids away from that a little bit.
"Two, it started at 6:20 instead of 6:30. So I'm like, 'What the heck's going on here?' I'm looking at my watch and it's 6:25 and they're doing second call on my kid. Luckily he came out there and it worked out fine. I was going to have to raise a little cain about it; I didn't want to do that."
With that quick start, Harper had three others win their first-round matches Thursday. Jensen Lorea scored a 9-1 major decision over Adam Whitmore of Cabell Midland, Jake Smith pinned Preston's Brandon Poling at 160 and Jack Skidmore won 7-0 over Anthony Carter of Hedgesville.
Smith improved to 38-0.
"We were expected to win those matches and they did what they were supposed to," Harper said. "But it gets tougher tomorrow."
As action resumes this morning, Skidmore and Nitro's David Smith will face off in the quarterfinals. Lorea is on a collision course with Winfield's Bryce Humphreys, with both needing to win their next match to meet in the semifinals - Lorea against Parkersburg South's Kyle Knotts and Humphreys against University's Isaiah Hood.