By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Woodrow Wilson wrestling coach Street Sarrett knows how much work it will take for the program to get where he wants it to be. As far as he’s concerned, qualifying eight wrestlers for the state tournament is just the next step.
“Eight was a fair number, but we probably should have had 10 or 11,” Sarrett said. “We had some letdown from some guys, but I am happy with the guys who are in it. They fought hard and they earned their chance.”
Freshman Leland Swafford won the 113-pound championship, while Cole Williams was runner-up at 152. Finishing third was Cody Van Dyke (145), and fourth-place finishers were Josh Lilley (120), Tyler Gilger (138), Chris Worley (170) and Hunter Davis (182).
“The last four years we have had three, five, seven and now this year we have eight,” Sarrett said. “So we are gradually getting better.
“It takes a while to get a program back on its feet,” Sarrett said, adding that he is encouraged by what he has seen at both the middle school and youth league levels. “We have 40 kids in our youth league (Beckley Junior Eagles). It’s coming around.”
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What a difference a year has made for Independence sophomore Dustin Justice.
A year ago, Justice was on the outside looking in — the only member of the team not to qualify for the state tournament. The Patriots went on to a runner-up finish in Huntington.
Last Saturday, Justice wasn’t just on the podium at the Class AA/A Region 3 tournament. He was at the very top.
Justice defeated Greenbrier West’s Jordan Tincher in the finals of the 145-pound class. Justice was the division’s No. 1 seed.
Coach Cliff Warden was happy with Justice’s reversal of fortune.
“He had to beat a kid who had sort of owned him through junior high,” Warden said. “To come from behind like that was pretty neat.”
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In coach Brian Miluk’s second season, Greenbrier East has enjoyed one of its most successful seasons in recent memory.
“We had never won the Alleghany (Va.) Tournament, and we win it,” Miluk said. “We had never won at Covington, and we win it. We had never scored 168 1/2 points in the regionals. So we’re doing a lot of things first.”
At last Saturday’s Class AAA Region 3 tournament, the Spartans qualified eight wrestlers for the state tournament. Miluk was also quick to point out that 12 of the 13 wrestlers who competed placed in the top six.
Charles Withrow at 182 pounds was East’s only champion, but there were three runners-up: freshman Jasiel Kinder (106), senior Davis Solak (170) and junior Levi Nelson (220).
Taking third place were freshman Jared Morgan (113), sophomore Josiah Solak (160), junior Joe Sampson (195) and sophomore Evan Roberts (285).
“We have eight state qualifiers and only one is a senior,” Miluk said.
Everything seems to be going according to plan for Miluk and Co.
“This year we started off with 16 (wrestlers) and we finished with 16,” he said. “That’s what you want. This is a wrestling family that we are trying to build.”
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Chase Lusk was inadvertently omitted from a list of Shady Spring wrestlers who qualified for the state tournament in Monday’s edition.
Lusk is a freshman who placed third in the 220-pound division at the Region 3 tournament last Saturday.
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