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No. 1 HHS looking for title

HS wrestling
Jan. 18, 2013 @ 12:27 AM

HUNTINGTON -- Huntington High wrestling coach Rob Archer hopes what he's seen in practice since Jan. 10 is on display this weekend in the 35th WSAZ Invitational at Big Sandy Superstore Arena.

"I sense more fire," Archer said Thursday prior to practice.

Archer said that fire was missing on Jan. 9 when the Highlanders battled their way to 43-28 win over Cabell Midland in the annual dual between the Cabell County rivals. Matches went 6-6 that night at Cabell Midland with Huntington High's two other wins coming by forfeit.

"That's the first time we got hit," Archer said. "Do you get up and move on or lay down? We'll see."

Huntington High maintained its No. 1 ranking in Class AAA in the West Virginia Coaches Association poll. Parkersburg South, which has won four straight state titles, moved up to second and Point Pleasant climbed from eighth to third after its Winner's Choice victory last weekend in Fairmont.

"If we drop, I'm OK with that," Archer said before learning the Highlanders held on to No. 1.

Point Pleasant, which had won the last two overall titles in the WSAZ, is not competing. The Black Knights are entered in the Top Gun Tournament in Alliance, Ohio.

Huntington High's last overall win came in 2010.

Blennerhassett is the defending middle school champion. In the latest middle school poll, Edison is No. 1, Blennerhassett No. 2 and Milton No. 3. Edison and Blennerhassett are Wood County rivals from Parkersburg.

Huntington High will be without 120-pounder Jarred Simpkins for the rest of the season. The top-ranked wrestler in that weight class and a transfer from Ripley was dismissed from the team Wednesday. Archer cited disciplinary issues. The Highlanders won't have an entry at that weight this weekend.

Prior to the Cabell Midland dual, the Highlanders had finished high in three major tournaments and beaten Ripley, Parkersburg and Wheeling Park in duals.

"All season long we'd answered the bell. We didn't for that one," Archer said. "We needed to get our bell rung."

The WSAZ usually signals the start of the run to the West Virginia High School Tournament. It's five weeks until the Mountain State schools return to Big Sandy for the state (Feb. 24-26). This tournament also means schools will be competing in meets/duals closer to home the rest of the way.

"We'll see a lot of teams we're familiar with," Archer said. "We'll be able to gauge the other people we see and line things up."