The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

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December 3, 2013

Region 3 looks to build on success

Prep wrestling season officially begins today

High school basketball is, and likely always will be, king in southern West Virginia. But only one sport produced seven state champions, a runner-up and a coach of the year last season.

The 2013 wrestling season was the most successful for Region 3 in recent memory. It had been five years since an individual champion was crowned, but six region wrestlers had their hands raised on the season’s final night last February.

It had been even longer since a team from Region 3 won a title, but Greenbrier West ended a 17-year drought. After Independence won the Class AA/A championship in 1996, Oak Glen won a record 13 in a row. Point Pleasant ended that run with three straight from 2010-12 before West claimed the school’s first-ever title.

The first step in trying to build on that success comes today, when teams are allowed to compete for the first time. Independence, the Class AA/A runner-up each of the last two seasons, is wasting no time.

The Patriots are serious about getting back to the top. They will open the season today at Huntington — the reigning Class AAA state champion. Buckhannon will also be there as part of the tri-match.

Indy loses just three starters and returns five state placewinners from the team that narrowly lost to Greenbrier West.

As for the state champs, they will start the season a week later than most, with good reason. Most of West’s wrestlers also play football, and they will be trying to bring a first-ever football championship to Charmco when they battle No. 1 Madonna Saturday at Wheeling Island Stadium.

The Cavs, led by Class AA/A Coach of the Year Jeremy Tincher, begin defense of their state title Dec. 13-14 in Kingsport, Tenn.

West is the unanimous No. 1 in the state rankings released Tuesday. Independence is third.

Locally, there will be plenty of chances for fans to see their favorite teams this weekend. It all starts with the annual Beckley Newspapers Invitational on Saturday at Shady Spring High School.

Weigh-ins for the tournament begin at 8 a.m.

Joining the host Tigers will be Woodrow Wilson, Greenbrier East, Princeton, Liberty, Wyoming East and Bluefield. Woodrow edged Shady by a half point to win last year’s tournament.

Also that day will be Richwood’s annual Bill Hutchinson Classic. Nicholas County, Midland Trail and, of course, the host Lumberjacks are among the teams that will be there. Weigh-ins start at 7:30 a.m.

On the middle school level, the annual Wayne Bennett Duals will take place Saturday at Park Middle School. Weigh-ins start at 7 a.m.

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