The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

February 19, 2013

Ward still a favorite in 132-pound bracket

BECKLEY — Colton Ward has been ranked first all year, even when he was wrestling heavy at 138 pounds early in the season.

The Independence junior only solidified his spot when he won three championships in successive January weekends.

So, that Ward lost a close match to Greenbrier West’s Dustin Yoakum in the 132-pound finals at last Saturday’s Class AA/A Region 3 tournament, while maybe a surprise, should not be looked upon as a detriment to his season.

“When it’s all said and done, Colton Ward can win a state title,” Patriots coach Cliff Warden said, a knowing smile across his face.

It’s not as if Ward was dominated in his loss to Yoakum. The match was tied 1-1 untill Yoakum scored two points at the buzzer to claim the title.

And it certainly does nothing to diminish what Ward (38-8) has accomplished this season. He won championships on three straight weekends — at the Braxton County Invitational, the WSAZ Invitational in Huntington and the Bob Zide Rumble in Williamstown.

Only two Independence wrestlers failed to qualify for the state tournament, which begins Thursday in Huntington. Warden is expecting big things from his fourth-ranked squad.

“We’ve gotten better (as the season has gone along),” Warden said. “We qualified 12 out of 14, and I think 10 out of those 12 stand a chance to make noise.”

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Marquis Frazier might be peaking at the right time — now that he’s healthy.

The 160-pound Region 3 champ from Greenbrier West has been slowed most of the season. He got a late start because of an ankle injury he suffered halfway through football season, then had the flu and bronchitis most of the month of January.

Last Saturday, he defeated Liberty’s Mathew Bailey for his first regional crown.

“It’s getting better now that I’m in shape and not sick anymore, and not having ankle problems anymore,” he said.

Frazier (21-7) came out on top in a crowded division that included Bluefield’s Brandon Eldridge, who finished fourth at last year’s state tournament and has signed to wrestle at St. Andrews University in Laurinburg, N.C.

“Today I had a really good day,” Frazier said. “I won some matches that were really close (against) guys that beat me earlier in the season. I beat them when it counted.”

“He has not looked like himself, really, until this weekend,” Cavaliers coach Jeremy Tincher said after his co-No. 1 team won the regional. “Him being able to come back to form and do what I know he can do (was big).”

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Something about regional tournaments brings out the best in Nick Farley.

The Shady Spring wrestler brought down the house last year with his win over Greenbrier West’s Malik Boatwright in the 145-pound finals. Boatwright went on to place third at the state tournament, and all he has done this year is go 38-0 at 152.

Shady is now in Class AAA, and Farley’s flair for the dramatic continued last Saturday when he defeated Ripley’s Jake Martin for the Region 3 title at 138. Martin won last year’s 120-pound state championship.

Fans have taken notice of Farley’s accomplishments.

“I saw it quoted at wvmat(.com) that he is now the upset king,” Shady Spring coach Larry Ransom said.

— E-mail: gfauber@

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