By Gary Fauber
Register-Herald Sports Writer
Odd as it may seem to those who know him, Jeremy Tincher could not relax.
The Greenbrier West wrestling coach doesn’t mind telling you he was nervous during the championship finals of the Class AA/A Region 3 tournament Saturday.
“Regionals just have such an impact on what happens next weekend (at the state tournament),” Tincher said. “Even as many times as I’ve done it, it’s still nerve-wracking. It’s hard to control your nerves and not get nervous.”
Eventually, Tincher’s mind was put at ease.
Greenbrier West was able to hold off host Independence, finishing with 246 points to claim its second regional championship in three seasons.
The tournament had the promise of being a battle between two of the top teams in the state, and that’s what fans got. West, the state’s co-No. 1 team, and fourth-ranked Indy both had five individual champions, and each will send 12 of its 14 wrestlers to the state tournament that starts Thursday in Huntington.
The Patriots finished with 219.5 points.
“Throughout the weekend, we had a couple (matches) that went bad that we thought we could have got,” said Patriots coach Cliff Warden, whose team won the regional last season and finished second in the state tournament.
One of those matches was the 132-pound title match between Independence’s Colton Ward and the Cavaliers’ Dustin Yoakum. Ward (38-8) has been ranked first in the state most of the season, but a two-point move by Yoakum at the buzzer gave the Cavalier sophomore a 3-1 win and his first regional title.
“They were just in that little dump that Colton does, and I don’t think he got Dustin’s hips pulled in tight enough,” Tincher said. “Dustin was able to go around there and book his foot. When he booked the foot and hipped into him — and he was behind the arm — that’s two (points). That’s how the rule reads. And he got two right at the buzzer — wow!”
“We didn’t make up any ground. They started about 26 points ahead of us going into the finals,” Warden said. “They won as many matches as we did. That Colton Ward match was an 8-point swing. That wasn’t going to make up for 26.”
Three matches later, West ran off a string of three straight wins that all but sewed up the title.
Malik Boatwright (38-0) defeated Liberty’s R.J. Elam for the 152-pound title. That was followed by Marquis Frazier’s victory over Matthew Bailey of Liberty at 160. Tyler Parker (39-0) then beat Jake Tyler of Nicholas County for the 170 championship.
Only then was Tincher able to breathe easier.
“You just want each kid to perform to their ability. That’s all I want,” Tincher said. “If they do that, then I’m happy. You don’t want them to make a mistake and beat themselves.”
Liberty (109) was third despite having just five wrestlers. All five will be in the state tournament, including champions Donavan Vance at 285 and Tristen Harvey at 120. Cody Clifton fell to Independence senior Chris Clark at 138.
Bluefield was fourth with 106.5 points and Fayetteville fifth with 95. The Beavers’ Julius Thomas downed Cody Loudermilk of Greenbrier West in the 220-pound finals.
Independence sophomore Dustin Justice had a huge one-year turnaround. Last season, he was the only Patriot not to qualify for the state tournament. But he came full circle, beating West’s Jordan Tincher for the 145 championship.
Also winning championships for the Patriots were Teddy Stover at 106, Will Cox at 113 and Dylan McBride at 195.
Jordan Grimmett took the 126-pound title for the Cavaliers.
Midland Trail’s Ethan Barker, who beat Nicholas’ Drew Hicks in overtime to claim the title at 182, was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler. The senior has a 33-4 record going into the state tournament. His teammates Trisha Lee (sophomore, 113 pounds, 19-18) and Devon Steele (senior, 120, 40-12) will join him in Huntington.
Fayetteville wrestlers advancing include: Bailey Bowles (junior, 113, 33-11); Troy Farrell (freshman, 126, 30-13); Tracey Lovins (senior, 152, 25-15); Hunter Pullens (junior, 170, 29-18; and River Pullens (junior, 195, 20-12).
Shady Spring’s first year in Class AAA has been a success, and it continued Saturday night.
The Tigers were second to champion and host Ripley at the Class AAA Region 3 tournament. The Vikings finished with 238 points, edging Shady, which had 222.
Shady will send 11 wrestlers to the state tournament. The Tigers had four champions: Logan Robertson (106), Johnny Forren (120), Nick Farley (138) and Brandon Stump (145).
Farley defeated Ripley’s Jake Martin in the finals. Martin won the 120-pound state championship a year ago.
Greenbrier East finished third with 168.5 points and qualified eight for the state tournament. Junior Charles Withrow (27-4) defeated Capital’s Pat Vance for the 182-pound title.
Woodrow Wilson (127) was fifth in the team standings and had eight state qualifiers, including 113 champion Leland Swafford.
Oak Hill was sixth with 110.5 points and will have five wrestlers at the state tournament. They include: Cody Gillespie (sophomore, 106, 37-9); Marc Williams (junior, 132, 37-3); Dakota Miller (junior, 138, 37-3); Chris Shumaker (junior, 145, 35-6); and Wesley Legg (freshman, 195, 22-24).
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