By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
This time around, the Beckley Newspapers Invitational will have a decidedly more local flavor.
The tournament that serves as the area’s opener to the wrestling season will start at 11 a.m. at Shady Spring High School. The host Tigers will welcome 13 other teams to the tournament. Among them are local teams Woodrow Wilson Independence, Liberty, Oak Hill, Meadow Bridge, Midland Trail, PikeView, Princeton, Webster County and Bluefield.
Also in the mix are Parkersburg South, Huntington and Covington, Va.
All the teams will enter their varsity squads, but “B” and “C” teams will compete as well.
“We have tried to get better and better competition in here,” first-year Shady coach Jeff Lester said.
Lester, who won a state championship at Shady in 1984, knows what you see Saturday likely will not be what you see at the end of February. The first tournament of the season is a sheer learning experience.
“Typically this early, you rarely have people in the weight classes that they eventually end up in,” Lester said. “Most teams use this as a warmup tournament, just so they can get out as coaches and understand if a kid might be wrestling heavy.”
Lester expects the championship matches to begin at about 6 p.m.
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Also on Saturday will be the third annual Wayne Bennett Invitational Wrestling Tournament. Action from Park Middle School will start at 9 a.m.
Participating teams will be the host Roadrunners, Beckley-Stratton, Fayetteville, Eastern Greenbrier, Summersville and Virginia power Christiansburg.
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