By Wayne Bennett
For The Register-Herald
Wrestling season has begun and area mat rooms have been busy with high school, middle school and youth wrestlers hoping to experience a fun and competitive season.
Several local high school teams will kick off the season by participating in the Beckley Newspapers Invitational (BNI) on Saturday, at Shady Spring High School. This tournament is usually very well organized and provides some interesting early season matchups.
The fifth annual Wayne Bennett Dual tournament for middle schools will also take place on Saturday and will be held at Park Middle School.
Collins, Summersville, Eastern Greenbrier, Western Greenbrier, Park and Christiansburg will participate in this highly competitive tournament. Wrestling will begin at 9:30 a.m. and continue throughout the day.
— College wrestling teams have already started their competition and one local wrestler is making quite a splash at West Liberty State University.
Mike Carpenter, a former wrestler for coach Randy Daniel at Liberty High School, is a starter for the Hilltoppers in the 285-lbs. class. He recently won the Mt. Union Invitational and helped West Liberty beat 11th-ranked Pitt-Johnstown University in a dual match. His 3-2 decision in the heavyweight match secured a team win by the narrow margin of 18-16.
If you will remember, Mike was state high school runner-up in 2007 and state champion in 2008 while wrestling for the Raiders. Here’s to his continued success.
— Another local guy doing well is Shaun Sarrett, a former football player and wrestler at Woodrow Wilson High School. Shaun was also a three-year letterman in football at Kent State University. After graduation, he was a graduate assistant for Marshall University’s football team. Duke University then hired him as offensive quality control coach.
This season he is serving in the same capacity for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Shaun is teaming up with another Beckley native, Doug Legursky, in trying to get the Steelers back to the Super Bowl. Good luck, fellows!
— A new class was recently inducted into the National Wrestling Hall of Fame by the West Virginia Chapter. Dave Wadsworth, who wrestled competitively for many years and has had a very successful professional career, received the Distinguished West Virginian Award.
Mike Ellis of Hurricane and Bane McCracken of Milton were two longtime high school coaches who received the “Lifetime Service to Wrestling” Award. Jim Le Master of Milton received the same award for his many years of service and great success at the middle school level. Thomas Lewis of Fairmont and Don Bauer of Wheeling were also recipients of the “Lifetime” award for their tireless work at various wrestling venues in the past 40 years.
A posthumous award went to legendary sportswriter and Parkersburg native Jim Snyder, for his contribution to wrestling in the 1950s and 1960s.
This was an excellent class and the awards banquet was great.
— It is time to take the old water bottle off the shelf, dust it off and fill it to the max. This week a squeeze of the water bottle goes to Reginald Henry, a big wrestling fan and avid reader of this column.