By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Shady Spring made an impressive Class AAA debut Saturday at the Beckley Newspapers Invitational.
Big schools veteran Woodrow Wilson, however, was a tad better.
The Flying Eagles edged the host Tigers by one-half point to claim the BNI championship. Both teams had 12 placewinners, but the Eagles’ four runners-up to Shady’s three ultimately proved the difference.
Woodrow finished with 184 1/2 points to Shady’s 184.
“The skin of our teeth,” Woodrow coach Chad “Street” Sarrett said. “It was a tough day. We had some young kids fight today and that’s what matters.”
Four of the Eagles’ placewinners are freshmen: Jeremiah Mayo (third, 106 pounds), Leland Swafford (second, 120), Josh Gilger (champion, 132) and Chris Worley (second, 170).
But there was also plenty of experience to help push Woodrow to victory. Champions Matthew Gavin (220) and Daniel Pettry (285) are both seniors, as 145-pound runner-up Mark Glenn.
“We’ve got a good group of young guys who came over from Park (Middle School). Coach (Alan) Worley sent some good guys over,” Sarrett said. “And this group of seniors has been with us for four years and is a good group of kids.”
Only Woodrow had already wrestled prior to the BNI. The Eagles went to Huntington Wednesday and wrestled the preseason No. 1 Highlanders, who dominated to the tune of a 73-3 win.
“This first week has been good for us,” Sarrett said. “Huntington is probably the best team in the state this year and they pounded us pretty good. That’s where we need to be. We need to be in the same class as the Huntingtons and the Ripleys and the Parkersburg Souths.”
The Eagles were the class of this tournament, although Shady Spring did all it could to pull out the win.
Joining Oak Hill in the jump from Class AA/A to AAA, the Tigers matched Woodrow with three champions. One of them, 106-pounder Logan Robertson, is a freshman, but Johnny Forren (126) and John Duncan (138) are both seniors.
The Tigers have more depth this year, and that came in handy with the absence of seniors Tyler Kosut and Nick Farley. Both are injured, but first-year coach Larry Ransom said both should be ready for next Saturday’s Cavalier Clash at Greenbrier West.
Ransom felt having Kosut and Farley might have been enough to help the Tigers win the title.
“It was an early tournament and it was beneficial for some younger guys to get in there,” Ransom said. “It filled some gaps. ... Ultimately, I think we could have had a better showing with our seniors.
“We’re talking 10, 11 freshmen (getting) monumental experience. First high school match ever. Some were successful and some were not. But I think they’re all going to learn from it.”
Oak Hill was third with 113 points, Liberty fourth at 105 and Greenbrier East fifth at 71.
Oak Hill and Liberty had three champions each, and both also had six placewinners. Winning titles for the Red Devils were Cody Gillespie (113), Kevin Shumaker (145) and Seth Keith (195).
Champions for the Raiders were Tristen Harvey (120), R.J. Elam (152) and Matthew Bailey (160).
Elam was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.
“I was just looking forward to the season and what I can do to get better and get ready for the state tournament in February,” Elam said. “This was just the first step. I’m not going to let this get to my head. I’ve got a lot more practice, a lot more matches. I’ve won this, but I’ve got to go get it done.”
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Beckley Newspapers Invitational
Here are results from the annual Beckley Newspapers Invitational, held Saturday at Shady Spring High School:
1. Woodrow Wilson 184.5, 2. Shady Spring 184, 3. Oak Hill 113, 4. Liberty 105, 5. Greenbrier East 71, 6. Woodrow Wilson ‘B’ 64.5, 7. Nicholas County 52, 8. Princeton 38, 9. Greenbrier East ‘B’ 36.5, 10. Shady Spring ‘B’ 29, 11. Oak Hill ‘B’ 17, 12. Woodrow Wilson ‘C’, Nicholas County ‘B’ 4
106 pounds: Logan Robertson (SS), Jasiel Kinder (GE), Jeremiah Mayo (WW), Tabitha Smith (P)
113: Cody Gillespie (OH), Zach McCarghy (OHB), Spencer Floyd (SS), Tyler Cox (SSB)
120: Tristen Harvey (L), Leland Swafford (WW), Zach Clark (SS), David Cox (OH)
126: Johnny Forren (SS), Josh Lilly (WW), Zach Taylor (WWB), Blaze Barnes (P)
132: Josh Gilger (WW), David Meadows (SS), Hunter Fraley (L), Tyler Coy (P)
138: John Duncan (SS), Dakota Miller (OH), Tyler Gilger (WW), Chris Meadows (SSB)
145: Kevin Shumaker (OH), Mark Glenn (WW), Brandon Stump (SS), Logan Asbury (L)
152: R.J. Elam (L), Adam Zimmerman (GE), Cody Richmond (SS), Marcus Burgess (WW)
160: Matthew Bailey (L), Henry Matos (SS), Julius Lash (P), Cody Van Dyke (WW)
170: Josiah Solak (GE), Chris Worley (WW), Wade Leggett (NC), Levi Messer (SS)
182: Jacob Tyler (NC), Davis Solak (GE), Charles Withrow (GEB), Holt Criddle (SS)
195: Seth Keith (OH), Drew Hicks (NC), Hunter Davis (WWB), Ian Hashimura (WW)
220: Mathew Gavin (WW), Chase Lusk (SS), Kyle Ayers (WWB), Wesley Legg (OH)
285: Daniel Pettry (WW), Khalil Anderson (WWB), Christopher Delaney (GE), Noah McGraw (L)
Most Outstanding Wrestler: R.J. Elam, Liberty