By Dan Stillwell
The Wayne Bennett Invitational at Park Middle School is always a hectic time for wrestling teams and coaches.
But a good time was had by all Saturday. Just ask its namesake.
“It was great,” Bennett said. “Christiansburg (Va.) went through everybody pretty well, but the other teams were competitive.”
Christiansburg easily won all five matches, teamwise, and captured nine of 15 weight classes.
But Bennett noted it’s not really about wins and losses, at least at this stage.
“The first tournament of the season is a warm-up thing. Everybody looks at what they have to do and plan for,” he said.
“Some kids will change weight classes. You’ll also have a team like Summersville, which didn’t win a match because they left six or seven kids at home. Some didn’t have enough practices because of snow, and some others had a Fellowship of Christian Athletes event.”
Collins Middle School had two champions and five runners-up to finish second in the tournament.
“It went very well, considering we had one forfeit and had a kid sick,” coach John Arthur said. “We’re a very young team, but we have 10 kids who have wrestled for years together in the New River Youth League.
“They’re doing an outstanding job.”
Collins has 15 seventh graders, including Tanner Harris, who won the 78-pound division. His father Joel was a standout wrestler at Greenbrier West and West Virginia University, and his grandfather Toby was a longtime coach at Greenbrier West.
“Tanner is a technician. He studies the sport and has great mat sense,” Arthur said. “He doesn’t make a lot of mistakes.”
Collins also has two sixth graders. Moses Truman, a 90-pounder, also finished the day 5-0.
“We knew Moses would be talented, and through lifting and practices he’s matured a lot,” Arthur said.
Trenton Casto (145), Zach Barber (84), Connor Gibson (102), Chris Snuffer (285) and Broderick McDonald were runners-up in their weight classes.
Andrew Baber and George Laughery earned third-place finishes for the Little Devils.
Third-place Park had three champions and two runners-up.
“We’re very young. Most of my kids are first-year wrestlers,” coach Alan Worley said.
“They work hard, and I was tickled to death with how we finished today.”