By Steve Keenan
Local wrestlers will be among those taking to the mats Saturday around the state seeking berths in next week’s state tournament.
Oak Hill, in its second year in Class AAA, will compete Saturday at Ripley High School.
“I think we are peaking at the right time,” coach Alan Fell said. “I think we’re hungry.
“This is a good group of kids, a smart bunch.”
The Red Devils had five state tournament qualifiers a year ago, and those five are back for another shot at advancing to Huntington.
They include Oak Hill’s lone No. 1 seed, senior Chris Shumaker at 145 pounds. Grabbing a No. 2 seed was sophomore Zach McCarthy in the 113-pound classification.
Seniors Marc Williams (160) and Dakota Miller (152) garnered No. 3 seeds in their respective classes, and junior Cody Gillespie is seeded fourth at 120.
“I’m hoping we can get more qualifiers,” said Fell.
Shumaker, Fell said, has been “struggling with weight all year.” Miller and Williams can both “wrestle with anybody in the state,” he added.
McCarthy “has been hot all year long,” and Gillespie, also a Red Devil distance running standout, just returned to the mats after a seven-week absence due to a high ankle sprain. “He’s picked up right where he left off.”
Other competitors being looked to as possibilities to advance to Huntington include freshman Dawson Vincent, who has gone 5-1 since he moved down from 120 to 106; 132-pounder Tommy Jones; 170-pounder Jacob Bailey; 182-pounder Chase Gibson; heavyweight Shawn Snuffer, a relative newcomer to the sport; and 195-pounder Wesley Legg, who was the Coalfield runner-up. “He has really come on strong,” Fell said of Legg.
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The Class AA-A Region 3 event will be held at Independence High School Saturday.
Among the seeded local wrestlers are:
-- 106 — Tristan Swafford, Fayetteville, 10-15 record, seeded 4th;
-- 113 — Trisha Lee, Midland Trail, 18-14, 4th;
-- 126 — Bailey Bowles, Fayetteville, 31-7, 3rd;
-- 132 — Troy Farrell, Fayetteville, 20-7, 3rd;
-- 138 — Austin Buckland, Midland Trail, 21-14, 8th;
-- 145 — Cameron Underwood, Fayetteville, 31-5, 2nd;
-- 145 — Andrew Dickerson, Midland Trail, 9-7, 8th;
-- 152 —- Steven Withrow, Fayetteville, 14-20, 6th;
-- 220 —- Christian McGuire, Midland Trail, 17-9, 4th;
-- 285 — Anthony Murdock, Midland Trail, 30-7, 1st; and
-- 285 — Kylel John, Fayetteville, 4-6, 6th.
Veteran Fayetteville coach Wayne Yonkelowitz has been very pleased with his squad this winter.
“We’ve done very well,” he said. “Head-to-head, we’ve held our own.
“I’m very pleased with their progress.”
Lack of numbers prevents the Pirates from making much of a dent in the team standings.
“Like everyone else, snow days have made practicing at times a challenge,” Yonkelowitz added. “I feel that we are ready for regionals and states.”
Of Bowles and Underwood, Yonkelowitz said, “My two seniors have enjoyed a very successful year.”
For the third straight year, Bowles won at least 30 matches, pushing his career record to date to 127-52. This year he finished fourth at the Hardwood Duals, first at Clay County and third at the Coalfield tournament. “Bailey finished fourth at states last year and we are hoping to place again this year,” said Yonkelowitz.
At the Coalfield Conference tournament, Underwood registered his 100th career win. This year he placed second at the Hardwood Duals, third at Braxton County and second at Coalfield. “Cameron stands a very good chance of placing at states this year,” said Yonkelowitz.
Farrell, a sophomore wrestling 132, is 20-7 and placed fourth at Braxton County and first at Clay County. He was a state qualifier a year ago.
New to the team this year were: Swafford, a freshman; Withrow, a sophomore who finished third at Clay County; John, who was fourth at both Braxton County and Clay County; and junior Te’vion Saunders (138).
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