The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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January 7, 2014

Lumberjack Classic has grown beyond expectations

When The Lumberjack Classic (formerly the West Virginia Army National Guard Duals) first started, tournament director Lee Parlier’s goal was to stay small.

“Originally we started it for (the likes of) Richwood, Webster County, Meadow Bridge, but we were getting eliminated pretty fast,” the Richwood coach said. “So we thought, why not guarantee 10 matches, regardless if you go 0-10, so the kids get to wrestle?”

Somehow, teams like Kentucky power Johnson Central got wind of the tournament. Soon following were strong West Virginia programs such as Independence, Greenbrier West and Keyser.

All of a sudden, the tournament was growing larger and faster than Parlier ever anticipated.

“At first, I thought it would be sort of a poor man’s WSAZ (Invitational),” he said. “Teams that could not compete there could come here. But all those teams started coming in and it has turned into a pretty powerful tournament.”

Now in its seventh year, the Classic will take place Friday and Saturday at the Summersville Armory. Wrestling will start at 1 p.m. Friday on seven mats with 30 teams divided into five pools of six.

The pool winners will make up the championship pool, the runners-up another and so on for Saturday, with a start time of 10 a.m.

Greenbrier West won last year’s tournament, becoming the first West Virginia team to win since Herbert Hoover in 2009 and ending Johnson Central’s run of three straight titles.

Welcoming such powerhouses, Parlier admits, can be daunting.

“There is a lot more pressure to make sure the tournament is run smoothly,” he said. “You want to make sure teams have the proper amount of time going into their last two or three rounds. You don’t want to affect the tempo and maybe impact who wins.

“But it’s a fun pressure. It has taken off beyond anything I thought it would be.”

Aside from the name change, the only difference to this year’s tournament is there will be no middle school division. There will, however, be a middle school quad on Saturday involving Independence, Shady Spring, Richwood and Summersville. It will be wrestled on one mat, and Parlier anticipates it taking about four hours, at which time high school action will resume on that seventh mat.

— E-mail: gfauber@

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