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Prep Notebook: HHS affirms No. 1 ranking

Dec. 24, 2012 @ 12:00 AM

Huntington High's wrestling team started the season ranked No. 1 in Class AAA and so far the Highlanders are showing why they should occupy that spot.

After a 44-20 loss to Ohio Division II and national power Graham High of St. Paris, Ohio, Huntington has won a dual at No. 2 Ripley, finished third in the North Canton Holiday Invitational and won a tri-match Saturday at Parkersburg High's Fieldhouse. They beat No. 5 Parkersburg (43-24) and No. 6 Wheeling Park (50-14).

The wins over Ripley and Parkersburg made up for home losses to those schools a year ago. In February, the Highlanders will face No. 3 Parkersburg South and No. 4 Point Pleasant in duals at home.

"I told the team they have to be toughminded," Highlanders coach Rob Archer said. "We've not be intimidated. It's tough every place you go. I was thinking about a letdown. It wasn't there. We wrestled pretty good. They're pretty hungry."

Archer said winning at Parkersburg or Parkersburg South is special.

"It's a big match," he said of facing the Big Reds. "They have a lot of tradition. They don't like to lose. When you get them, they're not happy. They're a good team, physical. I told the kids we had to get physical and they did. The intensity was good."

At North Canton, host North Canton Hoover won with 161 points. The Highlanders placed third with 157 and had four starters missing.

Logan Grass (106), Jordan Allen (113), Billy Waldeck (138) and Justin Arthur (145) each went 2-0 Saturday. Grass and Allen wrestled up a weight against Wheeling Park.

Archer said Chase Childers (126), Cody Shepherd (132) and Paden Christian (152) have come on strong as the Highlanders still are a bit shorthanded.

Nigale Cabell, who placed third in the state last year at 220, saw his first action Saturday. He finally got cleared from the concussion he suffered in football. He competed at heavyweight, but will drop back down.

"He did a great job," Archer said. "He was a little shaky, but aggressive. He couldn't wait to get out there."

Huntington High will see perhaps its toughest competition of the season this weekend in the 45th Powerade Christmas Tournament at Canon-McMillan High School in Canonsburg, Pa. The tournament boasts its biggest field with 46 teams. The tournament is ranked No. 3 in the country among regular-season high school tournaments by WrestlingReport.com. The Ironman Tournament is ranked No. 1, while New Jersey's Beast of the East Tournament is No. 2.

No. 1 Blair Academy is favored to repeat as champion. The Buccaneers won the Walsh Ironman two weeks ago and Powerade host Canon-McMillan finished fifth, almost 150 points behind them. Canon-McMillan is No. 3 (Wrestling Insider Magazine) and Clovis High of California is No. 5.

"We look forward to this tournament," Archer said. " I think we can have a good showing. We came back disappointed last year. Some guys need a little revenge."

Arthur placed seventh and Allen 8th in the Powerade in 2011.

"If we want to go places, we have to step up in these kind of events," Archer said.

Huntington High's best state tournament showing is second in 2001 and 2011. Each time the Highlanders finished behind Parkersburg South.

ROAD TRIPS: Point Pleasant and Cabell Midland will be in Wheeling this weekend for the Wheeling Park Duals. Spring Valley will compete in the West Jefferson (Ohio) Duals.

FOOTBALL SCHEDULES: Raceland will play Coal Grove and Ironton in 2013. The Rams will visit Coal Grove and face the Fighting Tigers at home.

GOLF: Dates for the 2013 Callaway Junior Tour (West Virginia Golf Association) are posted at www.wvga.org. The tour will start May 28 at The Greenbrier Resort and conclude July 29 at Pete Dye Golf Club. Dates for the Junior Am and Junior Match Play are out, too. On-line registration for all WVGA events will start March 6.

David Walsh is a reporter for The Herald-Dispatch. Contact him at 304-526-2759 or dwalsh@herald-dispatch.com.