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Highlanders are top challengers in tourney

February 21, 2019
Huntington's Clayton Stewart loosens up before his match during the WSAZ Invitational wrestling tournament in January at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington.

HUNTINGTON — Parkersburg South is the team to beat, but Huntington High has a chance to unseat the Patriots from their Class AAA top perch in the three-day State High School Wrestling Tournament that begins Thursday in Big Sandy Superstore Arena

Parkersburg South is looking for its fifth consecutive state championship and ninth since 2009. Another state title would give the Patriots a whopping 22 since 1975. The state tournament opening session begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday with Class AAA and Class AA/A first-round competition.

Huntington High, No. 4 in the WVMat.com team rankings behind top-ranked Parkersburg South, Parkersburg and Wheeling Park, has state qualifiers in 13 of the 14 weight classes coming out of the Class AAA, Region IV.

Clay ton Stewart in the 170-pound weight class and twotime state champion Zane Lanham at 182 pounds were regional winners for the Highlanders and are top-ranked in the state for their divisions.

Lanham was indicted last week on sexual assault charges in connection with an alleged incident in November 2018 and his status for the state event is not known. Huntington High athletic director Bruce Senior said “no comment” Wednesday when contacted to ask whether Lanham would be wrestling this week.

Cabell Midland has 10 qualifiers in Class AAA, Hurricane has two and Spring Valley has one.

Luke Jordan from Cabell Midland at 106 pounds and Chase Stevens from Spring Valley (195) both could make waves this weekend.

In the latest WVMat.com wrestler rankings Jordan was

No. 3 in his weight class and Stevens was No. 2 in his classification. They were both Region IV champions.

Hurricane’s Damion Saunders is ranked sixth in the state at 285 pounds.

While Parkersburg South is looking to extend a streak, Point Pleasant is looking to end one as Independence enters the Class AA/A tournament having won five straight state titles. Point Pleasant seeks its first championship since 2012 when it won the third of three Class AA/A crowns in a row.

Point Pleasant loaded up for the state tournament, qualifying wrestlers in all 14 weight classes.

Isaac Short from the Big Blacks is ranked No. 1 in the 106-pound class by WVMat.com. Derek Raike is No. 1 at 120 pounds and Justin Bartee tops the rankings at 126 pounds.

The Big Blacks are No. 1 in the wv.mat.com team rankings.

Winfield, ranked No. 8 in Class AA/A, has Jamie Ward as a top-ranked individual at 152 pounds. Ward won a state title last year at 145 pounds.

By and large, the Kanawha Valley will have to pull a few upsets to have much of a presence atop the podium of any weight classes.

St. Albans’ Brandon Holt, a two-time state champion, is the state’s top-ranked Class AAA wrestler No. 1 in the state and one of 12 qualifiers for the Red Dragons from Region III.

While St. Albans won the Class AAA, Region III team crown, Riverside produced the most individual winners with four -- Josh Slack (106), Kaleb Ramirez (120), Izak Petry (145) and Austin Chapman (285).

72ND STATE HIGH SCHOOL WRESTLING TOURNAMENT

At Big Sandy Superstore Arena Admission: Adults $8; Students $7. Book tickets: Adults $40; Students $35

TOURNAMENT SCHEDULE

Thursday

4:30 p.m., Skin check and weigh-ins

6:30 p.m., Class AAA and AA/A first round matches.

Friday

9 a.m., Skin check and weigh-ins.

11:30 a.m., Class AAA and AA/A quarterfinal and consolation matches.

7:30 p.m., Semifinal and consolation matches.

Saturday

8:30 a.m., Skin check and weigh-ins.

10:30 a.m., Consolation semifinal, final matches.

6 p.m., Championship matches.