Lanham in HHS lineup, opens with pin
HUNTINGTON — The 72nd State High School Wrestling Tournament began Thursday with Huntington High’s Zane Lanham ta king his place in the Class AAA 182-pound weight class.
It had been unclear if Lanham, indicted by a Cabell County grand jury Feb. 15 on a charge of sexual abuse and battery, would participate in the tournament. Huntington High athletic director Bruce Senior and other administrators at the school had declined comment prior to the start of the tournament.
Lanham was arraigned Wednesday by Cabell Circuit Judge Alfred Ferguson and released on a $10,000 bond. He is represented by attorney Rich Weston. He is due to return to court March 19.
In his first round match Thursday, Lanham won by pin against Sean Murray from University.
Huntington High wrestling coach Rob Archer, also an assistant principal, confirmed Thursday that the two-time state champion would wrestle.
“He’s been the same ol’ Zane,” Archer said. “He’s focused.”
Lanham won the 152-pound weight class as a sophomore and moved up to to win the 182-pound class as a junior. He was a state runner-up as a freshman.
His absence from the tournament would have impacted the Region IV runner-up Highlanders.
BLAZING A TRAIL: Realistically, George Washington junior Hannah Anderson knew she was up against some pretty long odds at the state wrestling tournament. But for Anderson, it isn’t really about what happens on the mat, but about the trail she’s helping to blaze to it.
Anderson was pinned by Chance Williams of Spring Mills in 48 seconds the 113-pound weight class Thursday.
It was a tough draw for Anderson, who admitted as much, but her goals were at little different than most.
“I just want to push myself as hard as I can,” Anderson said. “It’s a tough draw for me and that’s OK, I’m just going to work as hard as I can to get as far as I can.”
Anderson has competed on the statewide and national levels in all-girls meets as well, but said wrestling against boys has brought with it its own unique set of challenges.
“It was a rough year starting out, getting adjusted to heated (practice) rooms and then getting adjusted to cutting weight and learning how to maintain weight the right way,” she said. “These guys are so much stronger right off the bat, so you have to work three times harder to get to their level. Lifting every day after practice, lifting before school starts — you have to do everything you can, which is hard.”
Nothing much has been easy for Anderson, who scratched and clawed her way to third places finishes at the Mountain State Athletic Conference tournament and at the Class AAA, Region III meet in Beckley two weeks ago.
But Anderson said she realizes the opportunity she has as a female at the state tournament to perhaps attract other females to the sport, something she said she has actively pursued over the past couple of years.
“Every time I come to a tournament I’m the only girl or there’s maybe one or two more,” Anderson said. “But I try to start girls teams once a year, try to get a travel team going to go to duels and stuff for Team West Virginia. Usually we have to have people from other states join because we don’t have enough.
“Once you hit puberty as a male, you’re so much stronger than a female and girls just don’t know how to push through it. That’s when they usually drop out, around middle school.”
Parkersburg South’s Samantha Miller was another female in action Thursday in the 106-pound division. Miller took Region III champion Josh Slack of Riverside into overtime before losing an 8-6 decision.
WARD HAS MORE TO PROVE: Winfield’s Jamie Ward entered Thursday’s opening round as one of only two Kanawha Valley wrestlers ranked number one in any weight class according to the latest individual rankings from www.wvmat.com.
Ward has sat atop the Class AA/A 152-pound division for most of the season and won the 145-pound championship a year ago. Still, perhaps nobody feels as though they have more to prove than Ward who scored a 13-7 decision against Garet Hostuttler from Weir in Thursday’s opening round.
In winning a state crown last year, Ward bested Alex Hart of Independence 8-7. But in that title bout, Independence coaches claimed an extra point was awarded to Ward in the third period. Had that point not been added, Hart would have won the match 5-4 in regulation. Instead, Ward won it via an escape in an ultimate tiebreaker.
The controversy raged on for weeks following the state tournament and Ward admitted it dug at him.
“The first week or two, yeah it really got under my skin,” Ward said. “Me and my dad were really frustrated with it. It got to the point where it was like, well, we can’t do anything about it and we’re not going to dwell on it. We think we won the match and that’s all that matters.”
Ward, who will continue his wrestling career at West Liberty University next year, said this time around, he wants to leave no doubt with anyone.
“That’s been my whole slogan for the season, I’ve got to prove everybody wrong,” Ward said. “I want to prove to people that the first one wasn’t a fluke and I want to do it in spectacular fashion.”
AMOS NATIONALLY RANKED: Among the wrestlers on the mats for 224 first-round matches was Braxton Amos of Parkersburg South the defending champion of the 220-pound weight class.
Amos, a junior, was honored in the Flowrestling.com national rankings that placed him as the No. 5 pound-for-pound wrestler. He is No. 2 in the 220-pound weight class after sitting atop that poll most of the season.
“Well, I lost a couple of matches and gave up some points while I was training for three weeks at Colorado Springs (a regional Olympic training center in Colorado),” Amos said. “But in a South singlet I’ve still not given up a point.”
Rankings, however, mean little to Amos, because he said competition means more to him.
“I work hard and I hate losing,” Amos said. “I like getting the snot beat out of me.”
That’s not something that happens often, but when it does it’s at the hands of Olympic trainees and from within his own Parkersburg South squad.
Lauden Haga, Parkersburg South’s top contender for the 285-pound state championship, is among the wrestlers Amos credits with driving him in practice. Coach Shaun Smith and the rest of the PSHS wrestling staff don’t hesitate to get on the mat and challenge the team.
Amos, the Region IV champion with a 42-0 record, pinned Ashton Stokes from St. Albans on Thursday.