By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Down 15-12 to Ripley’s Preston Martin with only 20 seconds remaining, Cole Williams knew he had to do something, and quick.
So, he did.
“I went for a go-for-it-all move and ended up getting pinned,” the Woodrow Wilson senior said of his match in the 152-pound finals at last Saturday’s Class AAA Region 3 tournament. “I would have won if that move would have worked.”
Williams had to settle for second place, more than good enough for a spot in the state tournament that starts Thursday at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington. Maybe not quite good enough in Williams’ mind — his goal, of course, is to win every match.
Considering where he had been, however, every time out is a victory.
While his teammates, as well as every other healthy wrestler, were competing throughout December, Williams spent more time Christmas shopping than wrestling. Torn ligaments in his shoulder sustained during football season kept Williams shelved for the first month of the season.
Finally, on Jan. 10, Williams made a successful return against Woodrow Wilson’s biggest rival.
“I didn’t want to have surgery and have to miss the whole season,” he said. “So we had a home tri-match with Greenbrier East. That was my first match, and ever since then it has been holding up pretty good.”
Williams wrestled twice that night, following a win over the Spartans’ Adam Zimmerman with a victory over Oak Hill’s Anthony Greene. It was then that Williams knew all would be fine.
He carries a 17-3 record into the state tournament, where he will take on Jefferson senior Chris Yenchko (27-9) in the first round.
Williams’ first big tournament was the WSAZ Invitational Jan. 18-19. He finished fourth in a weight class that included Greenbrier West’s Malik Boatwright and Huntington’s Paden Christian.
Williams lost in the semifinals to Boatwright, who wound up beating Christian for the championship.
“I got to the semifinals pretty easily, and we (he and Boatwright) had a battle back and forth,” Williams said.
“Considering it was my second (tournament), I was pretty happy with the outcome. But I always want to win.”
More importantly, his shoulder was holding up well.
“At first I was a little timid coming back. It was sore,” he said. “But now it’s 100 percent.”
Williams got over the injury, but the weather unfortunately proved to be a more formidable foe. Snow on the next two Fridays forced Woodrow to cancel trips to the West Virginia Duals and the MSAC Tournament, both in Parkersburg.
Woodrow coach Street Sarrett has been impressed with the way Williams has been able to perform in the face of adversity.
“That first weekend back he really showed improvement,” Sarrett said. “He looked good in regionals. We look for him to have a good state tournament.”
“I’ve just got to take it one match at a time and stay focused on the kid from Jefferson,” he said.
Considering what he has been through, Williams is likely to savor every moment.
Freshman Kyle Ayers was inadvertently omitted as a state qualifier for the Flying Eagles in Tuesday’s edition. He finished fourth in the 220-pound class at the regional tournament.
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