The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

High School Sports

March 1, 2014

Boatwright-Justice III: Rivals meet for it all

HUNTINGTON — Some things just seem destined to be.

Area rivals Dustin Justice of Independence and Malik Boatwright of Greenbrier West will meet today for the third time in four weeks. This time, it’s for more than bragging rights.

The 160-pound state championship will be on the line as Boatwright and Justice take their rivalry to the biggest stage.

Boatwright (34-2) beat Justice 8-7 in the Coalfield Conference Invitational finals Feb. 8, then took a 6-4 victory in the Region 3 title match last Saturday.

Boatwright has had a pedestrian path to today’s final. He pinned Matt Hopwood of East Fairmont in the first round, then decisioned James Bell of Philip Barbour in the quarterfinals. In the semifinals, Boatwright pinned Levi Jarvis of Braxton County.

Justice, meanwhile, needed some magic.

In the quarterfinals, Justice (43-10) scored a takedown at the buzzer to beat Keyser’s Jacob Mellot 9-8. His semifinal match went triple overtime before he scored a 6-5 win over Roane County’s Luke Scott.

“And he rode the kid for the last 30 seconds, which is very un-Dustin Justice like,” Patriots coach Cliff Warden said of the aggressive junior. “We placed a lot of emphasis in the last month or so, there is going to come a time when you have to ride. And I’m glad we had.”

Boatwright and teammate Dustin Yoakum (132) can both make history today. No Greenbrier West wrestler has ever won back-to-back state titles.

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Universal Pictures probably didn’t realize it was providing inspiration for the Independence wrestling team.

The motion picture “Lone Survivior,” which tells the true story of a failed Navy SEALs mission to Afghanistan in 2005, hit close to home for the aptly named Patriots. One of the SEALs killed in the mission was Jeff Taylor, a Midway native and former wrestling teammate of Cliff Warden.

Taylor and Warden were both seniors on the 1994 team, and both were state placewinners. Warden was the runner-up at 189 pounds, while Taylor finished fourth at 145.

On Wednesday, the whole Independence team got together to see the movie, one day before the start of the state tournament.

“It was a really good movie,” senior 138-pounder Colton Ward said. “It let us know to keep fighting, no matter what.”

Knowing that one of their own was depicted among those who perished made the film mean even more.

“It made use want to watch the movie and understand his life and how it was for him,” Ward said.

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Logan Robertson’s career got off to a nice start last year at Shady Spring. He went 39-8 and finished fifth in the state at 106 pounds.

Now he’s at Greenbrier West, competing at 113 for the defending state champion Cavaliers. Today, he will wrestle for a state championship.

Robertson (39-2) defeated Keyser’s Dalton Wilt 5-3 in the semifinals Friday night. He will battle Roane County’s Cam Moore (42-3) for the title. Moore is ranked first in the state and Robertson second.

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Liberty senior Triston Harvey’s career came to an end Friday after a loss to Riley White of Roane in the second round of consolations. Harvey (19-7) was the final Raider standing after the rest of the team either quit or was injured gradually through the course of the season.

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The area’s last chance for a Class AAA state finalist was Oak Hill’s Marc Williams. But his attempt fell short with a semifinal technical fall loss to Buckhannon-Upshur’s Seth Cutright.

Cutright (43-1) was the state champion at 152 last season.

Williams (31-7) will compete for third place today.

— E-mail: gfauber@register-herald.com and follow on Twitter @GaryFauber

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