By Gary Fauber
Assistant Sports Editor
When Dustin Yoakum won his 132-pound championship match, Greenbrier West coach Jeremy Tincher looked up to the Cavaliers’ cheering section, pointed to the scoreboard with his left hand and raised his right index finger in the air.
It didn’t take Albert Einstein to figure out what had happened.
“I knew it was over,” Tincher said. “Of course, we can do math. They teach math at Greenbrier West.”
They also churn out state champion wrestlers.
The math told Tincher all he needed to know — his team finally secured a state championship.
Yoakum’s 3-1 overtime win over Colton Ward of Independence mathematically eliminated the Patriots from contention. With Tincher celebrating openly, Greenbrier West had become the first team not called Oak Glen or Point Pleasant to win the Class AA/A state title.
After Independence won the championship in 1996, Oak Glen went a national-record run of 13 straight state titles. In 2010, Point Pleasant finally unseated the Golden Bears and had won the last three.
Now, Greenbrier West stands alone at the top.
“That’s great. That’s all we wanted the whole trip down here,” said Yoakum, a two-time regional champion. “Any individual effort helps out.”
Greenbrier West finished with 131.5 points, while Independence was second with 119.5.
Yoakum and Ward met for the second straight Saturday, with Yoakum winning both times. Both matches were pivotal in the race for a team championship — last week, the Cavaliers defeated Indy for the Region 3 title.
“Dustin is just that kind of kid,” Tincher said. “He loves being in those situations. He beat a returning state champion, he beat a kid that beat him earlier in the season in the semifinals and then he beat Colton. And all three of then in overtime. When it went to overtime, I knew it was over. Dustin looked at me and winked, and I knew.”
Yoakum’s win took away the suspense, but not the fun for the Cavaliers, who won three individual championships.
Malik Boatwright and Tyler Parker both capped off undefeated seasons. Boatwright defeated Magnolia’s Garrett Hypes 5-2 to finish 42-0, while Parker survived a serious challenge from Jake Tyler of Nicholas County to win 9-5 and finish his senior season 43-0.
“We didn’t come down here big-headed,” said Boatwright. “We stayed calm and flew under the radar. With our performance, I guess we proved we are No. 1.”
Parker was in a three-way tie for Most Outstanding Wrestler, and Tincher was awarded the Class AA/A Dix Manning Coach of the Year Award.
It is the first-ever state wrestling championship for Greenbrier West and only the second of any kind. The boys basketball team won the 1992 state title.
It caps a remarkable run by the Cavaliers, who won championships in their last eight tournaments. That includes the AA title at the WSAZ Invitational, where they finished second only to Huntington, which cruised to the AAA state title, ending Parkersburg South’s run of four straight.
Tincher said the foundation for the team’s success starts long before the wrestlers get to high school.
“It’s not just us. Any kid that gets through a wrestling season and gets here has worked hard,” said Tincher, who was quick also point out that he “couldn’t do this” without his brother and assistant, Steven Tincher. “This sport is too hard. It weeds out the ones who can’t hack it.”
Independence took home the runner-up trophy for the second straight season. It wasn’t the hardware the Patriots wanted, but it signifies nonetheless that the program is moving in the right direction.
“Just 12 points shy,” Patriots coach Cliff Warden said. “We have a lot of individuals who are not content with what happened. That will drive them in the offseason.”
Tincher’s gesture toward the scoreboard will be a lasting image, and deviated from the anti-scoreboard approach he had taken.
“That’s easy to say on Thursday and Friday,” Tincher said. “On Saturday, that got a lot harder than I thought it would be.”
— E-mail: gfauber