Wrestling Event Devoid Of Mystery|
By DAVID WALSH - The Herald-Dispatch
HUNTINGTON -- Its that time of year again. The
54th West Virginia High
School wrestling tournament begins Thursday night
at the Huntington Civic
Arena and coaches across the state are pondering
what can be done to keep
Parkersburg South and Oak Glen from repeating as
Coaches Ernie Sparks of Cabell Midland, Bill Archer
of Huntington High,
Jack Cullen of Point Pleasant and Steve White of
Nitro admit there may not
be an answer to that question. Parkersburg South is
their main focus since
the Patriots are defending champions in Class
"Theyre disciplined, technicians and they have the
desire to win," Sparks
said Saturday during a break at the Region III
Tournament at George
Washington High School. "Put those together and
theyre tough to beat.
They expect to win. They dont give matches
Cabell Midland opened the 2000-2001 season with a
dual at Parkersburg
South. The Patriots blitzed the young Knights,
70-12. The South Patriots
have not lost to a West Virginia team this season.
They have been ranked
No. 1 in the coaches poll all season long.
Outside the state, Parkersburg South placed fifth
overall in the Ironman
Invitational held at Walsh Jesuit in Stow, Ohio,
and had its first individual
champion in Casey Daggett, who went 5-0 to win the
160-pound class. The
Patriots went 3-2 in the Virginia Duals held Jan.
12-13 in Hampton, Va.
They lost to St. Marks, the No. 1 team in
Delaware, in the quarterfinals.
In the big dual against city rival Parkersburg, the
Patriots thumped the Big
Reds, 55-12. Parkersburg South stormed to the
Region I title last Saturday,
racking up 277.5 points to 165.5 for runner-up
Wheeling Park. The Patriots
had eight champions, two runners-up and 14 in all
qualify for the state.
Since 1988, Parkersburg South has won the Class AAA
title seven times
and Parkersburg five. North Marion of Region II
interrupted the run in 1998.
Oak Glen has prevailed in Class AA-A four straight
years since dropping
down to that class.
Success such as this, Archer said, begins at a
"They have the best feeder program and the best
support from the
community in the state," said Archer, whose
Highlanders rallied to win the
Region III title. "Oak Glens the same way.
Wrestling to them is that
Both schools see wrestlers start in youth programs.
Future Patriots further
their skills in middle school either at
Blennerhassett or Edison. Blennerhassett
has won the junior high title the past two years in
the WSAZ Invitational in
"Youth programs and tradition," Cullen said. "You
have dads and granddads
who say when I was your age I did this. We have a
youth program, but its
not as established. We battle hard to keep our head
"You have a junior program with 200 to 400 kids,
thats quite a start,"
Sparks said. "Theres some attrition. Those that
survive are tough. Thats
Cabell Midland and Nitro tied for most regional
champions with five each.
Huntington High had four. Two of Nitros wrestlers,
Chris Johnson at 125
and Robbie Ripley at 140, are unbeaten. At 103,
Jacob Frerichs has one
loss and Matt Easter at 112 has two.
White said the days of schools fearing Region I
wrestlers are over, but
passing Parkersburg South is another issue.
"They have a great feeder program," White said.
"They have depth. Theyll
bring 14 and get lots of placers.
"Weve beaten some good kids. We have some good
kids in Region III, but
two, three and four we dont have. Were not afraid
of Region I anymore. It
used to be bad."