Like all coaches, Ripley’s Matt Smith strives year in and year out for his Vikings to be among the state’s elite in the sport of wrestling.

And his program is without question one of the West Virginia’s most respected.

Tangling with the best in the state and out of state is a top priority for Smith, who twice in his Viking career wrestled for a state title and came away with a championship in 2002.

Smith’s Vikings faced the state’s top program on Thursday in Parkesburg South.

The clear-cut favorite to win it all again in Class AAA, South dominated the Vikings on this given night in a dual match featuring head-to-head competition in all 14 matches.

Ripley got off to a successful start as 103-pounder Brock Matson decisioned Samantha Miller, 4-2.

From there on it was all victories by the Patriots.

Devin Easton downed Viking Brett Haskins, 7-3, for a decison in the 113-pound.

Then the Patriots got a pin parade going, winning 11 of the next 12 matches by the slapping of the mat.

Brayden Johnson downed Nate Cox at 120, Tucker Windland topped Luke Miller at 126, Jude Childers was a winner over Gage Cobb at 132, Gavin Quiocho defeated Evan Shouldis at 138, in the 145-pound match it was Brayden Roberts winning over Eli Koontz, Ethan Koontz fell in his 152-pound match to Mikey Shamblin, Zane Hinzman of South was the winner at 160 over Jarrett Paugh, Dalton Fullerton downed Austen Boggess at 182, Noah Buckalew was victorious at 195 against Ethan Bryant, Braxton Amos, predicted by many to be a future Olympian, downed Tanner Toss at 220 and Louden Haga captured victory over Matt Moore at 285.

At 170, Wyatt Linder won by technical fall over Isaac Parsons.

While it was a tough night for the Vikings, sometimes to be the best you have to beat the best. In this case, Ripley faced off with the best and it will bode well for Viking wrestling in the future.

Next up for Coach Smith’s Vikings will be the Class AAA Region IV Tournament this weekend at Parkersburg High School’s Memorial Fieldhouse.

The top four qualifiers in each of the 14 weight classes will move on to the 72nd West Virginia High School State Wrestling Tournament in Huntington Feb. 21-23.