By Wayne Bennett
For The Register-Herald
The West Virginia Army National Guard Wrestling Tournament will be held Friday and Saturday at the Summersville Arena and Conference Center. Twenty-four high school teams and 12 middle school teams will participate in the two-day event. Seven ranked West Virginia schools and one ranked Kentucky school should make this tournament exciting.
Clay County (2), Greenbrier West (4), Independence (5), Calhoun County (8), Braxton County (11), Keyser (12) and Shady Spring (14) will be among the top teams from West Virginia. Johnson Central of Kentucky is currently ranked in the AA class there and is a mainstay among top ten teams. Lakeside, Ohio, a competitor in the tough Division I of that state, is also entered.
Wrestling begins at noon on Friday and 10 a.m. on Saturday.
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Looking back on the year of 2012, I can certainly think of a few notable occurrences that took place.
Independence finishing second among AA-A teams in the state tournament was a pleasant surprise. That finish was enough to merit Cliff Warden the Dix Manning Award for AA-A Coach of the Year.
On a negative note, our area was once again denied an individual state championship. It was 2008 when Liberty’s Nick Hylton and Mike Carpenter captured titles. Hopefully, things will change this season.
Right after Warden received his coach of the year award, a very deserving Gary Fauber, from the Beckley Register-Herald, was named Wrestling Sportswriter of the Year.
Another bit of good news for wrestling fans is that two more state colleges will start wrestling programs next season. Alderson-Broaddus College will be coached by Mitch Smith and Wheeling Jesuit University will be coached by Sean Doyle.
The reclassification of West Virginia high schools will definitely have an impact in wrestling. Point Pleasant, Shady Spring and Oak Hill are among the schools moving up to the AAA class, while Fairmont Senior and East Fairmont dropped to the AA class. Don’t be surprised if a Fairmont team wins the state tournament this season.
Lastly, the new bleachers in Woodrow Wilson’s gymnasium now make it a good facility for wrestling. Hopefully, the Flying Eagles can host a regional tournament in the future!
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This week a squeeze of the water bottle goes to Brett Sutphin, a new wrestling fan and an avid reader of this column. Happy New Year!