Strong start for GW
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. - A point here, a point there turned George Washington's first round at the state wrestling meet from very, very good to above average.
The Patriots advanced six wrestlers out of the first round Thursday, but coach Richard Harper was holding out for at least one more.
"We lost one I thought we were going to get, 220 [pounds], Jack Skidmore," Harper said. "[Jacob] Duncan from Point Pleasant, I knew both of them were pretty good, and they came down to the wire and we lost 3-2.
"And you'll see that this weekend, good matches that come down to one point."
Those matches continue today at Big Sandy Superstore Arena with consolation and quarterfinal rounds beginning at 11:30 a.m. The evening session begins at 7:30 p.m., with semifinals and third-round consolation matches.
With those six winners, GW came out of Day 1 tied for seventh in Class AAA with 20 points. The Patriots got six expected wins from Phillip Sharp (106 pounds), Sam Moore (113), David Pancake (120), Jensen Lorea (138), Hunter Jones (170) and David Smith (285).
Levi Smith was pinned by Cabell Midland's Adam Whitmore at 126, Corey Shamblin lost 2-1 to Musselman's Todd Williams at 132 and Skidmore lost his heartbreaker at 220.
Defending champion Huntington leads the pack with 33 points, advancing 11 wrestlers into the second round. Parkersburg South is second with 28, followed by Parkersburg 27, Cabell Midland 25, Point Pleasant 22.5, Wheeling Park 21.5 and GW and Musselman 20.
The nearest Kanawha County team is the area's biggest surprise - St. Albans, 14th with 10 points. Let's put it this way: The Red Dragons had more first-round winners (three) than they had remaining participants at the end of last year. Not state participants, mind you, but people still putting on a singlet.
"Last year I started with 15 and ended with two," said second-year SA coach Daren Gilfilen. "Before halfway through the season I had two guys left. Now we've got about 12 kids and the three kids that won here at state have been with us since 5 [years old]."
Those three were sophomore Micah Crewdson at 120, sophomore Trey Harman at 138 and freshman Micheal Milam at 145. A fourth Dragon, senior Akeem Brown, lost at 195.
Winfield is 19th with 8 points, coming on wins by Chris Cochran (120), Bryce Humphreys (132) and Noah Julian (220).
Humphreys, the 126 winner last year, improved to 54-0 by pinning Brooke's Joey Eaton in 2:22. As coach Mike Cochran points out, Humphreys is performing at his best this season because, well, he has to. And it's not just about the big stage.
"Guys are watching a lot more closely so he can't get away with as much stuff as he used to," Cochran said. "He's still got that knack for pulling it out. He has the mat awareness to know when to get out of trouble."
In AA-A, Independence has broken out on top with 35 points, followed by North Marion with 26, Oak Glen 23.5, Greenbrier West 20 and Clay County 19. Herbert Hoover has seven points and Sissonville has three.
One of Hoover's winners, Chase Stover at 106, pulled off an unusual feat. He finished in fourth place in Region 4 but knocked off the Region 3 champion, Independence's Nathan McCaugherty 11-0.
Regional champions were 108-4 Thursday, but Stover's win wasn't a surprise.
"We'd beat [McCaugherty] before," said Hoover coach Heath Perry. "It just happened that our region had four of the top five kids in the state. At the time of regions, we had [Nos.] 2, 3, 4 and 5."
Kanawha Valley wrestlers who won Thursday, by team:
GW: Phillip Sharp 106, Sam Moore 113, David Pancake 120, Jensen Lorea 138, Hunter Jones 170, David Smith 285.
Winfield: Chris Cochran 120, Bryce Humphreys 132, Noah Julian 220.
St. Albans: Micah Crewdson 120, Trey Harman 138, Micheal Milam 145.
Riverside: Vince Hunt 132.
Nitro: Hunter Skeens 220.
Capital: James Walton 285.
Herbert Hoover: Chase Stover 106, Zane Weese 220.
Sissonville: Ryan Keckley 113.
Kanawha Valley wrestlers who lost Thursday, and fell into the consolation bracket:
GW: Levi Smith 126, Corey Shamblin 132, Jack Skidmore 220.
Riverside: Dustin Young 126, Hunter Green 138, Jeffery Thompson 152, Chase Hanshaw 195, Darrell Holstein 220.
Winfield: Evan Fairchild 145.
Hurricane: Alec Nida 106, Dylan Lucas 152, Jeremy Francis 160, Mitchell Fitzgerald 285.
Nitro: Caleb Vance 138, Terrel Jackson 152, Ryan Walters 182, Dalton Lanham 285.
Capital: Pat Vance 182, Chris Harris 195.
Herbert Hoover: Tristan Duley 113, Jesse Weese 132, Zach Callen 138, Alex Goff 152, Brody Thomas 182, Peyton Carey 285.
South Charleston: Fred Crozier 160.
St. Albans: Akeem Brown 195.
Sissonville: Jon Garnes 120, Austin Cook 145.
Buffalo: Mac Williams 126, Jacob Moore 285.
Poca: Camery Ford 120, Kyle McClanahan 145.
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5130, email@example.com or follow him at twitter.com.