RIPLEY – The latest installment of the Jackson County Invitational wrestling tournament featured plenty of outstanding accompalishments from the two schools – Ripley and Ravenswood – who share in hosting the event each year.

Throughout the competition on Saturday inside the Ripley Health Center, Matt Smith’s Ripley squad distanced itself from the rest of the field and went on to claim the overall team title with 170 points.

“We had a lot of guys show a lot of improvement,” Viking head coach Matt Smith said. “We didn’t have as many guys win it like we have had, but we had a lot of guys in the top four and that showed a lot of improvement. The more they wrestle, the better their techniques are getting.”

Two Vikings – Lucas Simpkins and Jake Martin – each won individual crowns during Saturday’s championship round by taking the 126-pound and 152-pound weight classes, respectively.

“They did what they are supposed to do,” Smith said. “You know what you are getting out of those guys. They both looked tough this weekend.”

On the other side of the county, Ravenswood’s Matt Wood claimed the 138-pound title for Matt Bender’s Red Devil program. It marked the first individual title for a Ravenswood wrestler since 2008 when David Dennis captured a championship. The Devils finished eighth in the team competition with 61.5 points.

“As a team, we didn’t do as well as we had hoped,” said Ravenswood head coach Matt Bender. “Missing senior leaders like Jordan Saunders (minor tear in MCL) and Pat Berry (Grade 1 Separated Shoulder) didn’t help matters much.  However, this is a tough sport for tough people, and injuries are bound to happen.  Our guys that were wrestling did an excellent job, and we couldn’t be more proud of them.”

Following the Vikings in the standings was Roane County with 150.5 points, with four Raider wrestlers winning individual titles on Satuday. Oak Hill was third with 91 points. The rest of the team scoring went as follows: Hurricane (77), St. Marys (72), Capital (68.5), Wahama (62.5), Ravenswood, Sissonville (59.5), Nitro (59), South Charleston (22), Capital JV (9), Roane JV (5), Ripley JV (3) and Hurricane JV (2). Sissonville, Nitro, Oak Hill, St. Marys and Ravenswood also entered junior varsity teams but none of the five scored points.
The championship round started with Ripley’s Josh Sinclair dropping a 9-2 decision to Roane County’s Jacob Spencer. It would be the first of three straight titles for the Raiders as Cam Moore and Riley White followed with championship victories at 113 and 120.

Sinclair had registered a pin over Hurricane’s Josh Talbott to reach the championship.
Moore won his title by defeating Sissonville’s Ryan Keckley, 11-3. White downed Sky Steadman of Hurricane, 9-5, to claim his crown.

Simpkins then garnered his championship by pinning Wahama’s Jacob Bennett. Simpkins pinned Ravenswood’s Kaleb Horn in the semifinals to reach the title round.

At 132, Wahama’s Randal Robie defeated Sissonville’s Chris Cottrell, 9-5.
It was then time for Wood to hit the championship mat and the Red Devil dominated Hurricane’s Dana Dech, 6-0. “Matt wrestled a very smart match where he controlled the tempo, scored his points when they were there and maintained his lead,” said Bender.

In one of the tournament’s best matches, Wood nipped Ripley’s Chase Morgan, 10-9, in the semifinal round to gain entry into the finals.

In the 145-pound match Chris Shumaker of Oak Hill pinned Dylan Lucas of Hurricane.
It was then time for Martin to take center stage and the talented Viking added yet another title to his outstanding career with a pin over South Charleston’s Fred Crozier. Martin had earlier in the day pinned Oak Hill’s Dakota Miller in his semifinal match to earn a spot in the championship round.

Unfortunately, Martin’s older brother, Preston, didn’t get to enjoy the same success in the 160-pound title match, falling to Oak Hill’s Marc Williams by a pin. Martin had easily defeated Logan Priddy of Capital, 13-2, in the semifinals thus, garnering a berth in the championship round.

Wahama’s Kane Roush took the next title at 170 with a technical fall over Mickey Houser of St. Marys. The 182-pound match was won by Capital’s Pat Vance, thanks to 10-5 decision of Nitro’s Ryan Walters.

Two of the final three championship matches of the JCI featured wrestlers from Ripley, but both had to settle for runner-up status. At 195, Austin Hall was pinned by Capital’s Chris Harris while 285-pounder Freddy Roush lost a tough overtime decision to Roane’s Caige Nichols, 3-1. Sandwiched between those two matches was Hunter Skeens of Nitro pinning Corey Stewart of St. Marys for the 220-pound title.

Jackson County was well represented in the consolation finals. Four Vikings wrestlers – Antonio Jones (120), Morgan (138), Donavyn Estep (170) and Garrett Phillips (220) – all placed third as did Ravenswood’s Damien Caldwell (145).

Ripley’s Andrejs Danilkus (113) settled for fourth along with Ravenswood’s Nathan Westfall (132) and Nathan Cunningham (170). Cunningham lost his match for third in overtime to Ripley’s Estep.

NOTEBOOK – In a classy gesture, parents of area wrestlers sent back bottles of water to the Kanawha County schools dealing with the water emergency due there. A recent chemical leak in the Elk River left the bulk of county residents without water since late last week...Bender praised Ripley for serving as a great host to this year’s JCI and is already looking forward to handling that duty in 2015...The JCI continues to be one of West Virginia’s oldest and longest-running wrestling tournaments.