No. 1 meets No. 2: HHS vs. Parkersburg South
HUNTINGTON -- Huntington High and Parkersburg South have had Thursday's match circled on their schedules since wrestling season began in December.
That's when the South Patriots will get the chance to take back something they believe is theirs -- the Class AAA No. 1 ranking in the West Virginia Coaches Association poll.
Huntington High assumed the top spot in the preseason poll for the first time and has stayed there throughout the season. The Patriots have either No. 3 or now No. 2 entering at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, dual match in Archer-Lucas Gym at Huntington High.
"I'd be mad (too). I'd think what do we have to do?" Huntington High coach Rob Archer said.
Parkersburg South embarked this season on the mission to win a record fifth consecutive Class AAA state championship. The Patriots made it four in a row in 2012 when Huntington High placed third. The Patriots lost a home dual against Ripey in December, but their lineup is much different now than the one new coach Donna Dixon sent out that night.
"Four-time defending state champs and a lot of guys back who made them No. 1," Archer said. "Until somebody beats you, you're the champ."
Thursday's match is one of the biggest duals ever held in Archer-Lucas Gym and Archer expects many fans from both schools to be in the seats. It's also Alumni Night for the Highlanders and former wrestlers from both schools are welcome back.
"It's wonderful to have it here," Archer said. "It's great for the school, great for the fans."
Both teams have wrestlers in the Top 10 in virtually every weight class. That should make for some interesting matches. For example, Huntington High's Logan Grass is No. 1 at 103 pounds and Parkersburg South's Logan Ball is No. 3 (as of Jan. 30). At 113, Jordan Allen for the Highlanders is No. 1 and Lance Hill for the Patriots is No. 2.
Then again, there could be lineup changes for both sides. "You try to get the matchups you want," Archer said.
In its last three starts, Huntington has won the WSAZ Invitational, a home dual over No. 5 Point Pleasant and the Mountain State Athletic Conference Tournament last Saturday at Parkersburg's Memorial Fieldhouse. The Highlanders had 253 points to 180 for runner-up Parkersburg.
"We were 5-6 in the finals," Archer said. "Not good. You have to scrap at a high level all the time."
Parkersburg South beat George Washington (60-10) and Cabell Midland (67-9) last Thursday on the Patriots' Senior Night. Earlier, the Patriots finished second in the West Virginia Duals and OVAC Tournament (to Steubenville).
In this series, Parkersburg South has won four straight duals -- (42-21 in 2009, 51-18 in 2010, 42-16 in 2011 and 35-19 in 2012).
Huntington has five seniors scheduled to wrestle Thursday. They are Billy Waldeck (138), Justin Arthur (145), Toney Kitts (285), Aerison Parrish (195) and Jason Martin (160). They know previous senior classes are 0-4 against the Patriots.
"They're the leaders. They're deter mined," Archer said. "I think they're still mad about the Graham dual (Ohio Division II power Graham beat the Highlanders 44-20 on Dec. 1 at home). They know what's at stake."