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Winfield star arrives unbeaten

Feb. 27, 2014 @ 12:30 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Winfield High School's Bryce Humphreys knows he's a marked man going into the West Virginia High School Wrestling Championships at Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

The junior has taken the best, and then some, from opponents all season at 132 pounds and to his credit enters the 67th State Tournament as one of three unbeaten wrestlers in Class AAA at 53-0.

"I see the best from everyone all the time," Humphreys said after he survived a close call in the finals to win his weight class in the Region IV Tournament at Cabell Midland High School. "I'm used to it. It keeps me motivated."

"He has the attitude he's not going to lose," Generals coach Mike Cochran said.

The 132-pound weight class is one of the toughest in the Mountain State. Going into the state tournament, Region IV has the top three in the latest top 10 rankings by the coaches. Point Pleasant's John Raike is No. 2 and Chase Childers of defending state champion Huntington High is third.

Humphreys and Raike met for the regional title and the match went nothing like their meeting in the WSAZ Invitational semifinals where Humphreys won, 10-3, at Big Sandy.

Raike had a takedown in the first period and an escape in the second period for a 3-0 lead. While fans envisioned an upset, Humphreys thought otherwise. An escape and takedown in the third period got him even at 3-3, but Raike would get away for a point and 4-3 advantage. Humphreys pressed the issue in the closing seconds and got a dramatic takedown for the decisive two points with a second left to give him a 5-4 victory.

"I knew I had some time left," Humphreys said. "He got two points early and had momentum. He had nothing to lose. The match didn't go as planned. I believed I'd find a way to get it done."

Humphreys said his coach made a simple, spirited request in the closing stages.

"He said, 'you'd better get after it,' " Humphreys said.

"I was mad. I said you don't have much time and let's go," Cochran said. "As long as there's time left, he believes he's got a chance."

This is the third State Tournament for Humphreys. He finished sixth at 120 as a freshman, going 36-9. What he learned that season paid off in 2012-13 as the then-sophomore capped a 46-2 season with a state title at 126. Throw in this season's numbers and he's 135-11 for his career. He surpassed 100 career wins during the Musselman Duals in late December.

"He wrestles smart," Cochran said. "He's aggressive and that used to hurt him. Now he channels that aggressiveness. When he builds up steam, he's hard to stop. He's aware of what's going on on the mat. He's a winner. He has no fear."

While nerves will be a problem for some competitors, that won't be the case for Humphreys.

"I perform better on the big stage," he said. "It's weird. I adapt to my opponent as the match goes, keep going with whatever works and hopefully come out on top again."

Cochran got quite excited last year when Humphreys became his first state champion.

"It was very special," he said. "If he does it again, it will be awesome."

In Class AA/A, Greenbrier West is defending champion. The No. 2 Cavaliers have 12 wrestlers in the state.

Independence, which has been ranked No. 1 in Class AA/A most of the season, won the Region III championship and qualified 13 for the state. The Patriots had 11 wrestlers in the finals and totaled 262 points to 238.50 for runner-up Greenbrier West. Independence last won a state title in 1996.

The two schools went head-to-head in seven title matches with Greenbrier West going 4-3. Independence finished with seven regional champs.

Liberty's Triston Harvey placed third at 120 to qualify for the trip to Huntington. The senior is the lone remaining wrestler on the team. Midland Trail's Trisha Lee got third at 113 to advance for a second straight year. Last season she became the first female wrestler in Fayette County history to compete in the state tournament.

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