By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
Wrestlers competing in the sixth annual West Virginia Army National Guard Duals better be ready for perhaps the most grueling two days of their season.
The tournament gets started at noon today at the Summersville Armory and Convention Center. Twenty-four high school teams and 12 middle school teams will be divided into pools and continue wrestling Saturday, beginning at 10 a.m.
Each wrestler is guaranteed five matches each day, with no one being eliminated. That, Richwood coach Lee Parlier says, is part of the tournament’s allure.
“This is an iron man tournament,” said Parlier, the tournament director. “The kids are usually exhausted after the first day, only to have to come out and do it again the second day. Most coaches say that is their favorite part of the tournament, too.”
Parlier has drawn praise from participating teams’ coaches.
“He has turned that thing into a meat grinder,” said Greenbrier West’s Jeremy Tincher, whose team is coming off a home win in the Lindsey Raines Memorial Duals. “It’s a great venue. There is plenty of room for fans, and there is a bunch of mats. It’s a great two days.”
Independence coach Cliff Warden also expressed excitement about the Summersville Armory. Six mats will be used for the high school division and a seventh for middle school.
“The facility itself is unbelievable,” Parlier said. “It is completely state-of-the-art.”
Joining Richwood, Greenbrier West and Independence as local teams in the tournament will be Midland Trail, Shady Spring, Oak Hill, Nicholas County, Bluefield, Fayetteville, Webster County and Princeton.
Some of the state’s top teams will be there. According to the latest coaches rankings at www.wvmat.com, Clay County is No. 2 in Class AA/A, West fourth, Indy sixth and Calhoun County ninth.
Then there are plenty of out-of-state powers, including Lakeside, Ohio, Grundy, Va., and — oh, yeah — Johnson Central, Ky., the tournament’s three-time defending champion.
“He has really spruced that thing up,” said Warden, whose Patriot team finished third last weekend at East Fairmont. “Lee Parlier has done a good job, especially getting it away from the WSAZ (Invitational, which is scheduled for Jan. 18-19 in Huntington), as far as getting other teams in the state to go there.”
Richwood has talent, but is at a decided numbers disadvantage. The Lumberjacks have only six wrestlers: Kenneth Ladadwa at 132 pounds (15-5), Tyler Moose at 138 (10-5), Logan Brown at 145 (16-4), Cody Starcher at 152 (3-2), Austin Stewart at 160 (16-4) and Dennis Cutlip at 170 (10-5).
Today’s pool winners will face off Saturday for a chance at the tournament championship.
“I enjoy the intensity of the tournament, too“ Parlier said. “Some of the officials commented that it
was the most intense tournament, regular season, that they officiate. The kids get their work in regardless of their record and it is a nice midseason workout for the teams.”
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