Shady Spring’s wrestling team knows going into any given tournament that it has little chance of winning. Such is life when you can’t come close to filling all 14 weight classes.
Just think where the Tigers might be with a full team.
Despite being shorthanded, Shady is ranked 10th in the state Class AA/A rankings for the second straight week. A strong showing at the Braxton County Invitational two weeks ago made some people take notice.
“The first part of our season we went to all duals tournaments, and you really don’t get an idea of how you are going to do in a bracket tournament,” Shady coach Jeff Lester said. “After Braxton County (a bracketed tournament), they saw that we have some great wrestlers that are going to place in the states. That’s when our ranking started coming up. I feel like it will continue that way.”
The Tigers will put themselves on display today when they host the annual Dix Manning Memorial Duals today. The tournament is named for the legendary Shady Spring coach who passed away in 2009.
Fourteen teams will compete in the Olympics duals format, and trophies will be awarded to the top three teams. Top individuals will receive medals and there will be a Most Outstanding Wrestler award.
The award is named in honor of Ricky Lane, a Shady Spring alumnus who was among the 29 killed in the Upper Big Branch mine explosion in April 2010.
“We plan to get started as close to 9 a.m. as possible, which usually means 9:30 once all the coaches drink coffee and we get the seeding meeting finished,” Lester said jokingly.
When the action does get started, the Tigers will have the chance to defend that ranking. They might do so with an undermanned team, but they can match talent with any team.
Shady has four wrestlers ranked in the state’s top 10 according to www.wvmat.com. Tyler Kosut (31-3) is third at 126 pounds, John Duncan (25-9) second at 132, Brandon Stump (27-4) third at 138 and Nick Farley (19-6) seventh at 145.
“We’re doing all right, but we don’t have a full team and that’s really hurting us,” said Stump, who was victorious at the Beckley Newspapers Invitational on Dec. 3.
“I’m happy with the way our team performs with what we have,” Farley said. “I think it’s brought our team closer, to be honest. We have a really good group of guys and I enjoy wrestling with all of them. I think having such a small group of guys who have been wrestling together since middle school, I feel like that makes us a lot better.”
The wrestlers agree with Lester that the Braxton tournament opened eyes to what Shady is capable of.
“We learned that if we can compete as a team and everybody tries hard and never gives up, we can accomplish anything,” Duncan said. “I like brackets more because you can show your wrestling ability a lot better. I got to the finals and kind of choked and didn’t do as well as (in the previous rounds).”
“We go out there and try to do our best,” Kosut said. “Just whatever we can do and try to wrestle as hard as we can. ... We usually do better in bracket tournaments. We don’t have those forfeits in most positions.”
Joining Shady today will be Cabell Midland, Greenbrier East, Princeton, PikeView, Logan, Capital, Braxton County, Midland Trail, Richwood and Nitro. Also, Woodrow Wilson, Huntington and Greenbrier West will field “B” teams.
Braxton County, the state’s No. 9 team in Class AA/A, has eight ranked wrestlers: A.J. Adkins (sixth, 113), Lance Gross (ninth, 120), J.C. Hoard (seventh, 126), James Acord (seventh, 132), Ricky Hammon (tenth, 136), Jacob Helmick (eighth, 160), Nathen Greene (sixth, 195) and Danny Meier (ninth, 220).
In Class AAA, Greenbrier East’s Ethan Brooks is ninth at 220. Cabell Midland has top-ranked Alex Reimann at 132), Nick Boone (second, 160) and Collin White (third, 220). Logan’s Tyler Nelson is seventh at 285.
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