huntington — Ashby West’s run through the state tournament thus far has seen a little bit of everything.
His first round win Thursday night was one of domination. In the quarterfinals, he won a slugfest.
On Friday night, it was gut check time. And he passed, defeating St. Marys sophomore Wiley Houser 4-3 to advance to tonight’s 120-pound Class AA/A state final.
West had already clinched one goal — placing for the third straight year. Tonight, he’s looking to complete the run.
A step-by-step approach has gotten West to this point.
“In the quarters match, I thought about the guy stopping me from placing, so I won that match. Then in the semifinal I thought about the guy stopping me from getting to the final,” West said. “(Today) I will look at the guy trying to stop me from being a state champ.”
West beat Fairmont’s Marko Tarley via 12-3 major decision on Thursday, then took down Sissonville’s Hunter Whittington 12-6 in Friday morning’s quarterfinal.
“He’s had a solid year this year,” Oak Hill coach David Vincent said. “You never know what can happen in the state tournament. I told him early in the tournament to not get greedy. A win’s a win. The ultimate goal is to be wrestling Saturday night for a state championship.”
A win by West would give the Red Devils an individual champion for the second straight year. Christian Lively won last season at 220.
West, ranked second in the state, will take on No. 1 Derek Raike of Point Pleasant. Raike defeated West in the WSAZ Invitational in January, also in the Big Sandy SuperStore Arena.
“I didn’t underestimate anyone here,” West said. “I just came in and wrestled every match like it was a championship match.”
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Independence won’t be leaving Huntington with a sixth straight state title. However, the Patriots are in a battle with East Fairmont and Braxton County for the runner-up trophy.
Indy is in second with 104 points, just ahead of East Fairmont (102.5). Braxton is in fourth with 90.
Sean Dawson (132), Liam Lusher (145) and Mason Kump (195) will wrestle for individual titles.
“Three guys in the finals that’s been consistently in the finals about everywhere we’ve went,” Patriots coach Jeremy Hart said. “I’m super excited for those guys and I’m heartbroken for the ones who didn’t do so good tonight. We’ll be back (today) with two kids (John Sanders and Bryce Perdue) fighting in the consolations. Those guys work their butts off and I know they will come ready to fight and wrestle for the team.
“We’re in a tight team race for second place. We’ve got to have some points in the morning and then for these guys in the finals to do their job.”
Independence was the runner-up in 2012 and 2013 before starting its state title run.
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Another athletic chapter in the history of Fayetteville High School was closed Friday.
Sammy Pullens carried the Pirates’ flag into Huntington and did well. He won his first round match, but lost close matches in the quarters and in the consolations.
He fell to Point Pleasant’s Logan Southall 3-1 in the quarters, then dropped another 3-1 decision to Greenbrier West’s Malik Cox to put a wrap on a successful career.
Fayetteville will close its doors after the academic year.
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