By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Independence coach Cliff Warden isn’t ready to declare his team state champion just yet.
The Patriots took 43-point lead over defending Class AA/A state champ Greenbrier West Friday at the West Virginia wrestling tournament at Big Sandy Superstore Arena. Indy had eight wrestlers in the semifinals, and five of them will wrestle for individual state titles tonight.
Greenbrier West, meanwhile, will have four in the finals, which begin at 6 p.m.
Plenty can happen today, but Independence finished the second day with 153 points. The Cavaliers, who beat Indy by 12 points to win the 2013 title, have 110 points going into today’s consolation rounds that start at 10:45 a.m.
Warden will concentrate on making sure those who are in the consolations understand the importance of where they stand. The Patriots have done well at wrestling through the consolations to secure runner-up finishes each of the last two seasons.
“Third (place) is first now,” Warden said of his message. “You can’t come back and get first, so pound your way down and get third.”
Two individual finals will have a Region 3 flavor.
Malik Boatwright and Dustin Justice will renew their rivalry, this time for the 160-pound state championship. Boatwright, who won the 152-pound state title last season, has edged out Justice in their last two meetings.
At 170, Greenbrier West’s Marquis Frazier (35-1) will wrestle the Patriots’ Alex Daniels (46-8). Frazier received a forfeit in the quarterfinals when his opponent, Mikey Houser of St. Marys, did not make weight and was disqualified.
Also seeking championships for Indy will be freshmen Jacob Hart (126) and Noah Adams (152) and junior Cody Clifton (145). Clifton, ranked second in the state and the runner-up last year at 138, will take on top-ranked Anthony Alvaro of Fairmont.
“We thought we could have five (and) as many as eight,” Warden said. “To pull five out of eight is pretty good. You hurt for the three that didn’t.”
Logan Robertson (113) and Dustin Yoakum (132) will join teammates Boatwright and Frazier in the finals.
While Independence and Greenbrier West separated themselves as the top two, the standings get tight from there.
North Marion is third with 79 points. Then there is a three-way tie for fourth — Fairmont, Oak Glen and Calhoun County all have 77.5.
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