Judah Price already knew about the monumental leap from middle school wrestling to high school. Still, he got some reinforcement two weeks ago at the same site where he had enjoyed his greatest accomplishment in the sport one year ago.
"I won WSAZs last year (as an eighth-grader), then jumped and wrestled the No. 12 kid in the nation and got manhandled," Price said. "He just murdered me. I learned a lot from that and just took that into consideration more than most of my losses, because he almost tech-falled me."
Ironically, that late-January Saturday at the WSAZ Invitational can also be pointed to as the day everything started to click for the Independence freshman. Two matches later, he upset Oak Hill senior Ashby West 3-1 and earned a fourth place finish at 120 pounds at the state's toughest tournament.
Price's run continued Saturday at the Coalfield Conference Invitational, where he once again met West in the finals. The result was the same — a 3-1 decision for Price that helped propel Independence to its seventh consecutive Coalfield championship.
The Patriots finished with 217.5 points to outdistance runner-up and Class A winner Greenbrier West (193). Indy placed five wrestlers in the finals and all five won, including Price, who was named Most Outstanding Wrestler.
"Wrestling the schedule we do and him seeing tough kids from all over the place, that's what's enabled him to come here and fight with a senior like that in the finals," Independence coach Jeremy Hart said. "Ashby is a stud. That's a good win for Judah."
Also winning Coalfield titles for Independence were John Sanders (113), Bryce Perdue (126), Sean Dawson (145) and Sam Adams (160).
It was the fourth Coalfield championship for Dawson, who is using his experience to help the likes of Price along.
"I've been grinding in the weight room, working with a two-time state finalist and regional champion (Dawson) and I've been around probably the best coach in West Virginia," Price said. "They've just been teaching me everything and it helps."
Indy placed 12 of its 14 wrestlers, giving it a luxury it hasn't seen much of this season.
"We have a young team. A lot of young guys came out and fought hard for us," Hart said. "We're starting to get some guys back in the lineup that we've been missing all year. We got Phil Spurlock (160) and Andrew Martin (182) back. They're finally back and got their practices in. That filled a couple holes that we had. We've been ate up with the flu and stuff like that, so we haven't traveled with a full team in a month. We took six starters to Parkersburg and we had everybody here. That makes a huge difference.
"All of our kids came and wrestled hard. It's definitely what we needed heading into regionals."
Winning championships for Greenbrier West were Noah Brown at 220 and Isaac Brown at 285.
Greenbrier East (174.5) was third and had five individual champions — Chase Martin (106), Zach Mullins (132), Landon Hoover (138), Colby Piner (152) and Alex Zimmerman (160).
Oak Hill and Shady Spring both scored 128 to finish tied for fourth.
Midland Trail's Colton Yoder won the 182-pound title, and Nicholas County's Jacob Williams was the 195-pound champion.
Princeton's Josh "Pork Chop" Bowman was named Coalfield Conference Coach of the Year.
Region 3 tournaments will be held next weekend. Greenbrier East and Princeton will head to Riverside with Woodrow Wilson for Class AAA on Saturday starting at 10 a.m.
Everyone else will head to Independence and will be joined by Herbert Hoover for Class AA/A on Friday and Saturday.
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1. Independence 217.5, 2. Greenbrier West 193, 3. Greenbrier East 174.5, 4. Oak Hill, Shady Spring 128, 6. Nicholas County 124, 7. Princeton 79.5, 8. PikeView 56, 9. Midland Trail 41, 10. Richwood 22, 11 Liberty, Bluefield 21, 13 Webster County 9
Individual Place Winners
106 pounds: Chase Martin (GE), Roger Thomas (NC), Josh Dudley (R)
113: John Sanders (I), Marshall Clere (GW), Trace Hatfield (P), William Holland (B), William Massie (GW)
120: Judah Price (I), Ashby West (OH), Montana Meachum (P), Hayden Brown (WC), Clayton Robinson (GW), Christopher Rader (NC)
126: Bryce Perdue (I), Josh Goode (SS), Conner Padgett (P), Colby Winnings (GW), Ethan Walker (OH), Mateo Rivas (SS)
132: Zach Mullins (GE), Brad Blevins (GW), Colten Caron (I), Max Hicks (NC), Miles Coffman (SS), Alijah Nichols (GE)
138: Landon Hoover (GE), Eli White (GW), Chase Conner (PV), Andrew Shrewsberry (SS), Mason Wills (OH), Donnie Giles (WC)
145: Sean Dawson (I), Eli Padgett (P), Levi Price (SS), Eli Sedlock (OH), Levi Fisher (GE), Waymon Browning (GE)
152: Colby Piner (GE), Tristen Tate (SS), Trey Hart (I), Dalton Hanshaw (NC), Willie Spearen (OH), Shawn Mitchell (B)
160: Alex Zimmerman (GE), Billy Stoots (L), Phil Spurlock (I), Kyle Neal (P), Riley Chapman (SS), Jayden Robinson (GW)
170: Sam Adams (I), John Parks (GW), Owen Quinn (GE), Conner Jones (NC), Maxwell Underwood (OH), Dylan Buckland (MT)
182: Colton Yoder (MT), Dominique Johnson (OH), Nick Thomas (GE), Andrew Martin (I), Scott Wilshire (OH), James Goins (NC)
195: Jacob Williams (NC), Joey Terry (GW), Lucas Goff (OH), Marcus Matney (PV), Thomas Mullins (GE), Isaiah Taylor (MT)
220: Noah Brown (GW), Ronald Hensel (PV), Kolby Ellis (SS), Jordan Pollastrini (OH), Tyler Workman (R), Adam Hewlitt (I)
285: Isaac Brown (GW), Ethan Morgan (SS), Dennis Redden (NC), Ethan Brown (GW), Hayden Miller (I), Elijah Evans (OH)