The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

Sports

February 21, 2010

Shuffle on down to the state tournament this weekend

With the 63rd annual West Virginia state wrestling tournament beginning Thursday, there are a lot of reasons to liken this competition to a poker match.

There will be some blue chip guys returning to the same weight classes they captured last year. Huntington’s Justin Riggs (103), Parkersburg South’s David Jefferey (112) and Tyler Green (140) and Ripley’s Corey Ratliff (130) are all studs returning to defend their titles in the Class AAA classification.

Only one wrestler in AA/A returns to the same weight he won last year. Cameron’s Tanner Whyte (152) is not bluffing about going after another title.

Other champions from last year who have moved to other weight classes are Elijah Hull of Lewis County (145), Ripley’s Adam Bicak (152), Roane’s Dylan Cottrill (119) and Josh Fisher (125), Point Pleasant’s Rusty Maness (130) and Casey Hogg (215), Cameron’s Tevin Hall (140), Calhoun’s Ben Laughlin (152), Max Nogay of Madonna (171) and Damon Capper of Berkeley Springs (145). There will definitely be some bottom dealing from this bunch in the form of stand-ups and switches.

Teamwise, Parkersburg South looks like an ace in the hole to capture another championship in Class AAA. The Patriots have proven all year they are the best. Some arguably say this might be the best team ever. That belief will surely stir the pot.

Class AA/A looks a little closer, with Point Pleasant entering the tournament ranked No. 1, just ahead of Oak Glen and Berkeley Springs. Point Pleasant coach John Bonecutter may be playing his own version of Texas Hold ’Em in trying to upend the Golden Bears of Oak Glen. You can bet there will be a crowd watching coach Larry Shaw’s final state tournament.

Locally, I think Greenbrier West’s Cavaliers might be a wild card in cracking the top eight.

Wrestling begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington. The quarterfinals and first two rounds of consolation will begin at 11:30 a.m. Friday. The semifinals and third round of consolations will begin at 7:30 p.m. Friday. The consolation semis and finals will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday.

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