Record keeping Ripley High has had its share of champs
(Editor’s note: This is the first in a series of stories sharing the history of sports, sports teams and individuals at both Ravenswood High and Ripley High.)
Ripley High School wrestling has proven to be one of the state’s most solid programs through the years.
After the sport was launched at Ripley in 1967, it has grown leaps and bounds ever since.
An outstanding Midget League program helped take Ripley High wrestling to new heights as time moved forward. And later, the addition of wrestling being offered at Ripley Middle School added yet another layer to helping build success at the varsity level.
In State Tournament competition, Ripley High has had 26 state championships claimed by 15 different different individuals at the Class AAA level.
The first came in 1979 when senior Tommy Hayes captured the 112-pound division of Class AAA. Hayes’ title made both school and county history as the first-ever state champ.
Hayes’ older brothers were among the early standouts in the sport of wrestling during its infancy.
The leader of titles at Ripley High School is Adam Bicak who was a state champ all four years of his Viking career.
Bicak was a winner in the State Tournaments of 2009-12, taking the title in the weight classes of 145, 152, 160 and 170, respectively.
Now a medical school student, Bicak attended Harvard University and wrestled for the Ivy League school.
Ripley has a trio of three-time state champs.
Mitch Smith was the first to accomplish the feat in the seasons of 2002, 2003 and 2005. He took titles in the weight classes of 130, 135 and 140, respectively.
Smith went on to wrestle in college, first at Hofstra University and then West Liberty State University, where he was a Division II All-American.
After his days as a competitor, Smith coached for several years. He started the program at Alderson-Broaddus University before taking over the head coaching position of his alma mater West Liberty.
David Hicks was next in line to win three crowns. The durable Hicks captured championships as a sophomore, junior and senior in 2010, 2011 and 2012. His first two titles were claimed in the 215-pound weight class and his third and final at 220.
Jake Martin was a three-time state champ as a freshman, sophomore and senior in the State Tournaments of 2012, 2013 and 2015. Martin’s championships came in the weight classes of 120, 138 and 170.
He was the co-Most Valuable Wrestler of the AAA State Tournament his sophomore year.
Ripley has had a pair of two-time state champions in Billy Simon and Lucas Simpkins.
Following a stellar Midget League career, Simon won his first state title as a freshman in the 1982 State Tournament. The talented Simon captured the Class AAA 98-pound crown.
He closed out his outstanding high school years on the mat by winning the AAA 126-pound title as a senior in 1985.
Lucas Simpkins won the 126-pound title of Class AAA as a sophomore in 2014 and then came back as a senior in 2016 to win his second crown by taking the 138-pound division.
In addition to being a state champion his senior year, Simpkins became the first and only Jackson Countian to be honored with the coveted Robert Dutton Award as the state’s top wrestler.
After Simon became Ripley’s second-ever state champion, the late Steve Jordan quickly earned the distinction of being the third by winning Class AAA’s 126-pound division at the 1982 State Tournament.
Ripley wouldn’t have another state title winner until senior Tom Bryant won the unlimited class of AAA in 1989.
A 12-year drought of state champs ended in 2001 when Adam Schindler won a title in the Class AAA 152-pound division. Schindler has the distinction of being a two-time state champ at two different schools. He won the Class AA-A 145-pound crown for Ravenswood in 2000.
Current Ripley High head coach Matt Smith joined his brother as a state champ in 2002 by winning Class AAA’s 130-pound division. He went on to wrestle at the collegiate level for Ohio University.
Following Matt Smith’s great run with those three titles, Logan Martin was the next champ for Ripley by claiming the 152-pound division in 2007.
Ripley had two champs in the State Tournament of 2009. Corey Ratliff captured the 130-pound title of Class AAA right before Bicak won the first of his four titles.
In 2011, Ripley had two more state champs as Jarrod Simpkins won the Class AAA 112-pound crown before Bicak picked up his third title.
Another State Tournament with two Ripley champs came in 2013. After Jake Martin won his second, Daryl Hicks followed later in the night with a title in the 285-pound class.
It's safe to say Ripley's state championship history has been that of "Brotherly Love" with the Smith, Simpkins, Martin and Hicks families all having more than one title winner in the household.
Schindler, meanwhile, had two uncles - Luke and Tom - win state championships at Ravenswood.
More on Viking wrestling in a future JN issue.