By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
There was a point Friday when things were not looking promising for Greenbrier West.
The Cavaliers were tied for ninth in the Class AA/A standings at the 66th annual West Virginia High School Wrestling Championships. That was after starting the day tied for fifth in a tightly-packed group at the top of the leaderboard.
Tempted as he might have been, however, Cavaliers coach Jeremy Tincher has sworn off scoreboard watching.
“I told the kids that we’re not chasing that scoreboard this weekend,” Tincher said. “My middle school coach called me and said, ‘Don’t go down there and chase that scoreboard.’ That’s as good advice as I have ever heard.”
Apparently, his wrestlers are taking that advice to heart.
Greenbrier West, which trailed Independence by 7.5 points in the race for first going into Friday’s semifinals, placed four wrestlers in today’s championships. The Patriots, who had six wrestlers in the semifinals, won just two of those matches.
The result is that West, which has won championships in its last seven tournaments, is in first place going into today’s final day. The Cavs have 115.5 points, 20 ahead of second-place Indy (95.5).
A win by either team would be the area’s first state wrestling championship since Independence won it in 1996.
East Fairmont is third with 94.5, followed by Wirt County (74) and North Marion (73).
West’s Dustin Yoakum and Independence’s Colton Ward will meet in the 132-pound title match. It will be a rematch of last week’s Region 3 finals, won by Yoakum.
An all-Raleigh County showdown will decide the 138-pound championship when Indy senior Chris Clark will face Liberty’s Cody Clifton.
Two matches later, West will start a string of three straight finals appearances when Malik Boatwright (38-0) battles Garrett Hypes of Madonna. Boatwright advanced with a dominating 16-9 win over Tyler Moore of Grafton.
On the mat adjacent to Boatwright, West’s Marquis Frazier was having an easy time with Alex Daniels of Independence. Frazier, a sophomore, won by technical fall, 18-3.
His opponent will be Bluefield’s Brandon Eldridge, who defeated Jacob Mellott of Keyser 5-0 in the semis.
Senior Tyler Parker finished off West’s trifecta with a pin of Williamstown’s David Hastings 1:11 into the first period of their 170-pound semifinal.
So dominant were the Cavs’ in those three matches that Boatwright actually stood and watched Frazier’s match while Moore was in an injury timeout.
“I told my wife that it would be really nice to be in the finals and walk up there at 152 and sit down and stay there until the 170-pound match is over,” Tincher said. “My wish came true.”
The semifinals did not go according to plan for Independence — much the same as last season. But the Patriots had several wrestlers make their way back through the consolation rounds a year ago, en route to a runner-up finish behind Point Pleasant.
They are in a similar position this year, with two in the championships.
“I was hoping (for a West-Indy showdown),” Patriots coach Cliff Warden said. “I don’t know. There is still a lot of wrestling to happen. (Today) will decide a lot.”
Wrestling picks back up at 10:45 a.m. with consolation rounds. The finals will start at 6 p.m.
Tincher is hoping for a different result than in the past.
“I’ve left this building many times with my heart broken over the years,” he said. “I’ve made that trip home a lot of times with tears in my eyes. For us to come down here and put four kids in the finals, it’s been a special night.”
— E-mail: gfauber