By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
It is because of this exact point in the season that teams wrestle the type of schedules they face in December and January.
The Class AAA Region 3 tournament will be held Friday and Saturday at Ripley. Five local teams will be included — Woodrow Wilson, Shady Spring, Oak Hill, Greenbrier East and Princeton.
The rest of the field is made of teams that these local squads would otherwise not see if not for statewide tournaments that attract West Virginia’s best. From the Winner’s Choice Tournament in Fairmont and the rapidly growing West Virginia Army National Guard Duals in Summersville, to the WSAZ Invitational in Huntington and even the MSAC Tournament in Parkersburg, scouting opportunities abound.
Woodrow even opened its season with a dual at Huntington. Even though the Flying Eagles were soundly defeated by the state’s top-ranked team, the experience gained was the more important thing.
“That’s the level we want our program to be,” Woodrow coach Street Sarrett said earlier this season about the likes of the Highlanders and four-time reigning Class AAA state champion Parkersburg South.
Count Shady Spring coach Larry Ransom among those who understands what it takes to build a program.
“We have tried to create a tougher schedule,” Ransom said. “We feel like that is what has been making out team better. … By the time regionals and states get here, that reality will set in and won’t be like culture shock when we get there. We will be able to handle them, or at least hang with them.”
Of the state-ranked wrestlers who will wrestle this weekend at Ripley, 14 of them are from the local schools. Shady has the most with seven: Logan Robertson (fifth, 106 pounds), Johnny Forren (third, 120), Tyler Kosut (sixth, 126), John Duncan (seventh, 132), Nick Farley (sixth, 138), Brandon Stump (seventh, 145) and Cody Richmond (ninth, 152).
Woodrow has three: Leland Swafford (eighth, 113), Cole Williams (eighth, 152) and Daniel Pettry (fourth, 285).
Greenbrier East also has three: Jasiel Kinder (sixth, 106), Josiah Solak (seventh, 160) and Davis Solak (seventh, 170).
Oak Hill’s Marc Williams is ranked fifth at 132.
Princeton, which has no ranked wrestler, is led by senior Tabitha Smith. Last season, Smith became the first Princeton girl ever to qualify for the state tournament.
The top four finishers from each weight class will qualify for the state tournament, Feb. 21-23 in Huntington.
Cavs back in tie atop Class AA/A rankings
Greenbrier West is again tied for first with East Fairmont in the Class AA/A rankings as voted by state coaches and released at wvmat.com.
Both teams received two first-place votes and finished with 38 points.
Independence remained fourth with 27 points.
In Class AAA, Shady Spring held on to the No. 9 spot.
All state teams will compete in regional tournaments Friday and Saturday. The state tournament will be held Feb. 21-23 at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington.