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Highlanders champs at last

Feb. 23, 2013 @ 11:52 PM

HUNTINGTON — ­Historic or more of the same — those were the main storylines entering the 66th West Virginia High School Wrestling Tournament at Big Sandy Superstore Arena, the home of the tournament since 1988.

Historic won courtesy of Huntington High. The Highlanders had three champions, 10 placers and piled up 200 points to win the Class AAA state title for the first time in school history (old/new schools).

Huntington started the season ranked No. 1 in the West Virginia Coaches Association poll and stayed there throughout. The Highlanders beat No. 2 Parkersburg South in a dual on Feb. 7 and repeated the task over three days on high school wrestling’s biggest stage. Parkersburg wound up second with 160.5 points and Parkersburg South third with 138. Between the two schools, they have a combined 39 state titles (21 Parkersburg and 18 Parkersburg South).

On championship night Saturday, Parkersburg went 2-2 and Parkersburg South had no one in the finals for the first time since 1993. The two Wood County rivals will have to wait until next year to restore the more of the same theme.

“Finally. I’ve been waiting for this talk a long time,” Highlanders coach Rob Archer told the media after the win. “All the guys go out, the qualifiers, the JV team. It was a team effort.”

In years past, Archer’s been left to explain why Huntington came up short and either Parkersburg or Parkersburg South returned up Interstates 64 and 77 with the team trophy.

Huntington’s champs were Justin Arthur at 145 pounds, Logan Grass at 106 and Jordan Allen at 113. The 10 placers by the Highlanders led the Class AAA field. That’s been a trademark of Parkersburg and Parkersburg South the years they win.

Arthur shared the outstanding wrestler award with Ripley’s Jake Martin, champion at 138. Archer was voted coach of the year. Rob’s father, Bill, is former Huntington High coach and now meet director.

“Dad started the whole thing,” Rob said of his father, Huntington’s first state champ who took over as coach in 1972. “It has been fun for him to watch. It has been an amazing journey.”

Coach Archer’s wrestlers savored the moment.

“I love being a part of history,” Grass said. “We made a statement out there.”

“It’s an amazing feeling,” Allen said. “Before tonight we hadn’t proven anything yet. Parkersburg South had the title until someone beat them.”

Well before the awards ceremony, Huntington fans had put on new state championship t-shirts. The shirts were printed earlier in the day.

In Class AA/A, Greenbrier West, which moved to No. 1 in the final coaches poll, won the team title for the first time in school history. The Cavaliers had three champs, six placers and 131.5 points. Independence was second with 119.5

Greenbrier West’s Tyler Parker (170), Cody Goff of Grafton (113) and Jesse Roman of East Fairmont (195) shared the outstanding wrestler award for that division. Jeremy Tincher of Greenbrier West received the coach of the year award.­

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