By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
It’s opening weekend for high school wrestling in West Virginia, which in this region always means the Beckley Newspapers Invitational.
The annual tournament will be held at Shady Spring High School. Weigh-ins will be 7:30-9 a.m., with wrestling starting at 10 a.m. The championship round will start at about 4:30 p.m.
Ten area teams will compete — Shady, Woodrow Wilson, Liberty, Oak Hill, Greenbrier East, Princeton, PikeView, Nicholas County, Wyoming East and Webster County.
Here is a brief look at some of the teams that should make a strong showing:
Shady Spring — The host Tigers return most of their team from last season, including placewinners Tyler Kosut (fourth, 126 pounds) and John Duncan (sixth, 132). This is the Tigers’ first year in Class AAA after a top-15 finish in the Class AA/A state tournament back in February.
Woodrow Wilson — The Flying Eagles finished second to champion Liberty in this tournament last season. They return four state qualifiers, all but one of them seniors. Woodrow began its season Wednesday at Huntington, and the Class AAA No. 1 Highlanders cruised. Freshman Chris Worley’s overtime 3-1 win at the 170-pound class was Woodrow’s only victory.
Oak Hill — Like Shady Spring, the Red Devils will be making their triple-A debut today. Among six returning state qualifiers for Oak Hill is junior Marc Williams, who was fifth at 113.
Greenbrier East — The Spartans return qualifiers Davis Solak (160) and Dylan Bullock (138), both of whom were top-5 wrestlers during the regular season. A pair of freshmen could make some noise for Greenbrier East in Jared Morgan, a former junior states champion, and Jasiel Kinder, a two-time junior states placewinner.
Liberty — Tristan Harvey (113), Matthew Bailey (145) and R.J. Elam (152) were all qualifiers last season; Harvey and Bailey both finished sixth. The Raiders had six individual champions en route to last year’s BNI championship.
Nicholas County — The Grizzlies have dropped to Class AA and are making their first appearance at the BNI in some time. Qualifiers Austin Stewart (170) and Drew Hicks (182) are back for Nicholas.