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Stevens leads Wolves into WSAZ meet

January 18, 2019

HUNTINGTON — With only eight wrestlers, Spring Valley High School can barely fill half of the 14 weight classes recognized by the West Virginia Secondary School Activities Commission, but in one of those classes the Timberwolves boast one of the top wrestlers in the state.

Chase Stevens is ranked No. 1 in the 195-pound weight class by WVMat.com and believes he can take the state championship. He’ll get a good sample of his challengers Friday and Saturday at the annual WSAZ Invitational in Big Sandy Superstore Arena. The two-day event with high school and middle competition is considered one of the largest of its kind in the nation.

Like wrestlers in every weight class, Stevens will get a feel for the atmosphere Big Sandy will have for the state tournament Feb. 21-23. Stevens was a third-place finisher in the WSAZ tournament last year wrestling in the 182-pound class before taking fourth place in the state.

“I love it,” Stevens said of the WSAZ Invitational. “It’s a big tournament that all my friends and family get to come out and watch me.”

Other wrestlers in the state will get a good look at Stevens too, and he said with the top ranking there is the pressure of having a target on your back. Stevens has already faced another championship contender this season, second-ranked C.J. Wade from Parkersburg.

Stevens beat Wade with a 7-5 decision at a tournament in Ripley. Stevens said they were tied with about 10 seconds remaining in their match when he scored a takedown for the final two points.

“He’s bulky and tall, so I knew I would have to go for his legs,” Stevens said.

Spring Valley head coach Chris Miles, a former state champion for Huntington High in 2011, said he thought his wrestler left a lot of points on the mat against Wade. They could meet again this weekend, Jan. 26 at the Mountain State Athletic Conference tournament in Parkersburg, the Region IV tournament Feb. 9 in Parkersburg and the state championships.

“Chase is a big, strong kid and having him on the team is like having another coach on the staff,” Miles said.

At 5-foot-10, Stevens is one of the shorter wrestlers in his weight class and his strength is what helps him compete, Miles said.

Stevens has compiled a 25-2 record this season with both losses coming to opponents from Ohio.

A senior, Stevens is talking with colleges to continue his career beyond high school. Wheeling Jesuit has shown interest, as has Coker College in South Carolina. Davis & Elkins College is showing interest too, and if Stevens accepts he would be among the first wrestlers to help start the school’s wrestling program for the 2019-20 season.

After that, Stevens said he could see himself returning to Spring Valley to help Miles with the Timberwolves. Stevens said he’s learned a lot from his first-year coach as well as from former head coach Anthony Emana.

Wrestling is in Stevens’ blood with his father being a former competitor at the old Huntington East High School.

WSAZ INVITATIONAL

High school-middle school wrestling

When: Friday-Saturday, Jan. 18-19

Where: Big Sandy Superstore Arena

Admission: Friday $8 adult; $7 student; free under age 6. Saturday daytime $8 adult; $7 student; free under age 6. Saturday night finals $9 adult; $8 student; free under age 6. All-session pass $25 adult; $22 student.

Middle school sessions:

Friday 5:45 p.m.

Saturday 10 a.m., 6 p.m., 8:15 p.m.

High school sessions:

Friday 1 p.m.

Saturday 10 a.m., 6 p.m., 8:15 p.m.

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