HUNTINGTON - It was an exciting weekend for wrestling fans as the West Virginia State Wrestling Tournament took over the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington from February 21-23.
Along with all of the excitement of first time winners and surprise placers in all weight classes across the board, there was just as much disappointment and sadness for those who dedicate so much to the sport and have to go home with less than they had dreamed of.
For the Ripley Viking Wrestling squad, they sat in third place going into Saturday's championship matches and while they qualified ten wrestlers for the tournament, the blue and white qualified ten wrestlers and landed five of them in the finals. Unbelievably, this is the second year in a row that Ripley has pulled off that feat.
Six of their 10 qualifiers placed for the Vikings. Antonio Jones (120), Martin Kuhl (182), Austin Hileman (132) and Freddy Roush (220) did not place for the Vikings. All but Senior Kuhl will make another run at the tournament next season.
Ripley managed to finish fourth overall in AAA and crown two wrestlers in repeating champion Jake Martin (138) and heavyweight Daryl Hicks (285).
The top five AAA team results were as follows; 1) Huntington (200), 2) Parkersburg (160.50), 3) Parkersburg South (138), 4) Ripley (128.50) and 5) Washington (105.50).
Ripley's Jake Martin was presented the Most Outstanding Wrestler Award along with Huntington's Justin Arthur (145).
"To be awarded Most Outstanding Wrestler is amazing and as a sophomore just couldn't be better. I am so proud of my teammates and couldn't have done it without them," said Martin of the award.
The Rod Oldham Coaching Award went to Rob Archer of Huntington High who snagged their first State Title in Wrestling.
For the Vikings of coach Matt Smith who was last season's Mountain State Athletic Conference Coach of the year, they qualified five wrestlers for the finals in frosh Lucas Simpkins (126), sophomore Jake Martin (138), junior Preston Martin (152), senior Nate Starkey (170) and senior Daryl Hicks (285), it was virtual tornado filled with ups and downs in the final round.
Frosh Lucas Simpkins lost an 11-6 decision to Winfield's Bryce Humphries in an exciting matchup at (126). Simpkins had defeated a tough customer in senior Micah Powell of Point Pleasant, 6-2 in the championship's first round that showed the level of the Viking freshman's maturity and the bright future ahead of him.
Sophomore Jake Martin wrestled like a machine in the (138) finals. In a 12-5 decision over Skyler Terrell of Parkersburg, Martin looked confident and business-like in his approach. He never trailed in the match and was in control throughout.
Martin flashed two fingers to the healthy Ripley cheering section indicating his second state title in as many years for the proud Ripley program.
"Jake is a gamer and he refuses to lose. He is a very coachable guy and I appreciate all of his dedication to our team," said coach Smith.
Page 2 of 4 - For Jake's tough as nails older brother Preston, a junior, his match for the (152) title ended in absolute heartbreaking fashion for the grappler.
With a tight match with Seth Cutright of Buckhannon Upshur within his grasp, Martin suffered a knee injury that left him with an "Inury Fall", giving the championship in the weight class to Cutright.
It was a devastating defeat for an athlete who gives so much and works so hard at his craft for his school. This young man simply deserved a better result.
Martin will have an MRI on Monday to determine the extent of the injury.
Nate Starkey (170) took on Reno Hill of Point Pleasant in the finals and was saddled with a loss in a 8-2 decision. The senior was coming off of an exciting win by fall over Austin Budd of Huntington in the championship's first round.
Starkey looks to compete collegiately and has had a fine Viking career.
Senior Heavyweight Daryl Hicks (285) was revved up to take on Morgantown's Taylor Ortiz in the finals. Hicks had pinned Ortiz in Fairmont earlier in the season.
Midway through the match, Hicks rolled Ortiz on his back and the Ripley heavyweight suffered a bloody nose, which caused action to be temporarily paused.
"I'm not exactly sure how it happened, when I rolled him back I just caught a forearm in the face. It happens sometimes," said Hicks afterwards.
Hicks rebounded and took care of his business in a 4-1 decision.
"It is worth all of the hard work, time and dedication to be at the top of the podium," added Hicks.
Senior Greg Medina (195) was the sixth placer for the Vikings. Medina wrapped his fine Ripley career with a fourth place finish. He compiled a (29-9) record this season and improved on his sixth place finish at the big show a year ago.
Medina lost by fall to Geremy Paige of Wheeling Park in the consolation.
"Greg worked so hard and was so dedicated throughout his career as were all of our seniors. It is a really good class of quality guys," said Smith.
Smith was pleased with his team's effort and likes his team's future outlook.
"I think we wrestled well overall. We had a few surprises here and there but I know we went out and competed and that is all you can ask of someone. All of the time spent working out and refining your skills and technique is for this moment and you have to take your shot." He continued, "I am excited for the direction our team is headed and look forward to watching us grow and progress forward."
Assistant coach Franklin Howerton spoke candidly about the 2012-'13 Viking Wrestling team.
Page 3 of 4 - "When you have a great group of seniors like this it hard not to see them all go out on top. Prepare, train and compete with no regrets has been our motto all season. I just want them all (team) be proud of themselves."
The Viking Wrestling team will host their annual team banquet in the coming weeks and team awards will be presented.
106 Logan Grass, Huntington Dec Ty Reynolds, Washington, 9-2
113 Jordan Allen, Huntington T-Fall Dallas Baciak, Wheeling Park, 15-0
120 Johnny Forren, Shady Spring Dec Johnathan Spence, Huntington, 7-5
126 Bryce Humphreys, Winfield Dec Lucas Simpkins, Ripley, 11-5
132 Kody Kernan, Musselman Dec Trapper Hays, Parkersburg, 5-1
138 Jake Martin, Ripley Dec Skyler Terrell, Parkersburg, 12-5
145 Justin Arthur, Huntington Fall Jonny Davis, Wheeling Park, 4:28
152 Seth Cutright, Buckhannon Upshur Dflt Preston Martin, Ripley, INJ
160 Jake Smith, George Washington Dec Dylan Ceravalo, Washington, 6-4
170 Reno Hill, Point Pleasant Dec Nate Starkey, Ripley, 8-2
182 Jared Haught, Parkersburg Dec Ryan Carson, Lewis County, 11-7
195 Terrance Fanning, Preston Dec Nathan Dawson, Brooke, 6-3
220 Tyler Riddle, Parkersburg Dec Cullen Ebbert, John Marshall, 9-4
285 Daryl Hicks, Ripley Dec Taylor Ortiz, Morgantown, 4-1
Consolation - Semifinals
Logan Ball (10), Parkersburg South Dec Logan Robertson (Fr), Shady Spring, 7-2
Austin Spears (9), Parkersburg Fall Sam Moore (Fr), George Washington, 0:58
Lance Hill (12), Parkersburg South M-Dec Nick Johnson (9), Parkersburg, 9-1
John Raike (Jr), Point Pleasant Fall Zach Tubaugh (12), John Marshall, 2:17
Guy Fisher (Jr), Point Pleasant Dec Braidon Knotts (12), Parkersburg South, 10-3
Tyler Sigler (Jr), Washington Dec Bradley DeRito (Fr), Musselman, 6-4
Dakota Linger (Jr), Buckhannon Upshur Fall Isaiah Hood (11), University, 4:31
Jensen Lorea (Jr), George Washington M-Dec Chase Childers (Soph), Huntington, 10-2
Jordan Quiocho (12), Parkersburg South M-Dec Steve Hite (Sr), Hedgesville, 13-1
Tyler Cross (Sr), Washington Dec Scott Lopez (12), University, 8-1
Dylan Taylor (10), Wheeling Park M-Dec Nick Farley (Sr), Shady Spring, 15-2
Billy Waldeck (Sr), Huntington Dec Noah Searls (Sr), Point Pleasant, 3-1 OT
Isaac Reed (Sr), Winfield Fall Brandon Stump (Sr), Shady Spring, 4:40
NaCodie Barrows (11), Parkersburg Fall Dylan Alexander (10), Parkersburg South, 4:32
Paden Christian (Jr), Huntington M-Dec Dillon Shaw (9), Brooke, 8-0
Cody Spinks (Sr), Musselman M-Dec Jake Alexander (12), Parkersburg South, 13-0
Briar Shively (12), Parkersburg South Fall Dylan Richards (10), Parkersburg, 1:49
Danny Colby (12), Wheeling Park Dec Josiah Solak (So), Greenbrier East, 8-1
Nate Constante (12), University Forf Vacant (Sr), Greenbrier East
Kyle Rogers (So), Lewis County Dec Nick Boone (Sr), Cabell Midland, 6-5 OT
Page 4 of 4 - Weight: 182
Brycen Reymond (Jr), Point Pleasant Dec Carter Capehart (Soph), Huntington, 3-0
Skippy Scurry (12), Brooke Dec Zach Richardson (Sr), Winfield, 3-2 OT
Gregorio Medina (Sr), Ripley Dec Matthew Dixon (11), Parkersburg South, 6-5
Geremy Paige (11), Wheeling Park Dec Dyln Lageman (Jr), Spring Valley, 5-2
Daniel Nolte (Jr), Buckhannon Upshur Dec Ashby Heath (Sr), Washington, 4-2 OT
Nigale Cabell (Jr), Huntington Fall Bonefacio Garcia (Sr), Martinsburg, 1:34
David Smith (Soph), Nitro Dec Preston Wise (11), Brooke, 5-3
Toney Kitts (Sr), Huntington Dec Thomas Hall (10), Parkersburg South, 4-2
See complete tournament results at www.wvmat.com