By Gary Fauber
When Independence trailed Greenbrier West after the first day of the Coalfield Conference Invitational, there may have been a slight bit of concern.
“They had more first-round matches than we did,” Patriots coach Cliff Warden said. “That makes points. ... I told my guys (when) they said something about the score, ‘Let’s wait till after the semis.”
Everything turned out fine for the Patriots.
Independence had a wrestler in each of the first 10 championship matches and came away with seven titles to hold off the Cavaliers for the Coalfield title Saturday evening.
The Class AA/A No. 1 Patriots placed 11 wrestlers and finished with 229 points. West, second with 200.5 points, won five of six championship matches and had 10 overall place winners.
The teams combined to win 12 of the 14 weight classes.
Winning titles for Independence were Nathan McLaugherty (106 pounds), Will Cox (120), Jacob Hart (126), Colton Ward (138), Cody Clifton (145), Noah Adams (152) and Alex Daniels (170).
Logan Robertson (113), Dustin Yoakum (132), Malik Boatwright (160), Marquis Frazier (182) and Cody Loudermilk (220) were all individual champions for No. 2 Greenbrier West.
West held the upper hand in head-to-head matches, winning three of four. Hart beat the Cavaliers’ Ben Alderson 1-0, but Robertson beat Teddy Stover in overtime, Yoakum pinned Jakob Cooper and Boatwright survived Dustin Justice. A reversal by Boatwright, the state’s No. 1 160-pounder, in the final 20 seconds gave him an 8-7 win.
Both teams were slightly short-handed. Indy was without 195-pounder Trey Williams, while Tristan Kessler could not go for West at 182. Both are injured but expected to be ready for the postseason.
Kessler’s absence forced Frazier to move from 170, where he is ranked first in the state. All he did was hand Nicholas County’s Jake Tyler , the state’s top-ranked 182-pounder, his first loss of the season in an 8-1 championship match.
Frazier (30-1) was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler.
“To go up a weight class and still win is something I should be proud of,” Frazier said. “I stepped up for the team because we had a man down and I am proud of that as well. I didn’t let the team down and did what I was supposed to do.”
It all helped set the stage for when things really count — Feb. 22 at the Region 3 tournament.
“We won seven out of 10. We get (Williams) back and can win eight out of 11, we’re grinning ear-to-ear,” Warden said. “Nothing’s a given.”
West coach Jeremy Tincher was more pleased with his team than he has been all season.
“We’re just wrestling better,” Tincher said. “We’re finally starting to come together. I feel like we’re wrestling with some flow. We’re finally in shape enough to wrestle.”
Other champions were Nicholas County’s Wil Mayes at 195 and Greenbrier East’s Evan Roberts at 285.
Notes: Cody Richmond of Shady (runner-up at 152) and Fayetteville’s Cameron Underwood (runner-up at 145) both picked up their 100th career victories during the tournament ... The Region 3 tournament will be held to one day because there is no danger of wrestlers exceeding the limit of five matches in one day. The tournament will start at about 9 a.m.
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