By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
When the 66th annual West Virginia High School Wrestling Tournament starts this evening in Huntington, Tyler Parker wants things to turn out differently.
Not that the tournament hasn’t been successful for Parker — he placed third last year at 160 pounds for Greenbrier West. But it isn’t the losses that have Parker bent on writing the ultimate ending.
It’s the way some of those losses have gone down.
“I have beaten in so many close matches,” Parker said. “I made up my mind that I would come into this room every day and work harder than everybody and not have to worry about those close matches.”
Greenbrier West coach Jeremy Tincher says Parker has been “obsessed” in his work habits. Parker wants to be the best conditioned wrestler in each match, and no one can argue with the results to this point.
The Cavalier senior carries a 39-0 record into the tournament. The state’s top-ranked 170-pounder will battle Ravenswood junior Patrick Berry in the first round that starts at 6:30 p.m. today.
The regular season has been nothing short of remarkable for Parker and his teammates. The Cavaliers have won championships in their last seven tournaments.
Parker, among others, has been a big reason for the Cavs’ run. He has been dominant, but also is winning the close ones that avoided him in the past.
“Not this successful,” Parker said of his preseason expectations. “But I knew if I worked hard I could be successful.”
“He has been obsessed with his work ethic,” Tincher said. “When I stop and think of all the kids I have had and the work ethic they all had, Tyler ranks as the hardest worker to ever come through this program.
“He has unbelievable faith in God. He has been raised the right way. It has been a pleasure watching him come in this room and work hard every day.”
As for the team’s success, Parker said it hasn’t been hard to stay grounded. It’s all a matter of staying focused on the big prize.
“We have won some matches, and those are OK for now,” Parker said. “But we are aiming for the big one (a state championship). We want to fly under the radar, and we have been good at (taking it in stride).”
Actually, everyone else has taken notice of the Cavs. Greenbrier West is the new unanimous No. 1 in the latest coaches rankings, released Wednesday at wvmat.com.
Now the trick is to treat the state tournament in much the same way as they would a regular-season event.
“This week is just about drilling and keeping things sharp,” Tincher said. “Going over the little things that might happen at the state tournament. The main things is to control your nerves.”
That’s not an issue Tincher has to worry about with Parker.
“I can’t wait to get there,” Parker said. “I wish we were leaving (Wednesday) to be honest.”
“When I grow up,” deadpanned Tincher, a 1988 Greenbrier West graduate, “I want to be like Tyler Parker,”
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