Highlanders validate No. 1 ranking
HUNTINGTON -- Call it Validation 1 for Huntington High's wrestling team.
The Highlanders started the 2012-13 season ranked No. 1 in the West Virginia Coaches Association preseason poll for the first time in school history and Parkersburg South checked in at No. 2 despite having won four straight Class AAA state championships.
Huntington's stayed on top all season. The Patriots, who once were third but climbed back to second, got their shot at unseating the Highlanders on Thursday night in their highly anticipated dual at Lucas-Archer Gym. Huntington won 10 of 14 matches to prevail, 37-24. That means Parkersburg South will have to wait two weeks to get another shot at Huntington.
The stage where Huntington hopes to write the sequel Validation II will be the West Virginia High School Tournament at Big Sandy Superstore Arena.
Highlanders coach Rob Archer enjoyed the moment Thursday, but knows they'll see an even more inspired Parkersburg South team in two weeks.
"A tournament is a whole new ballgame," Archer said. "It's good to see them. We know what to expect now."
It was Alumni Night at HHS as well and 37 former wrestlers at the old/new Huntington High showed up. The last to be introduced was Bill Archer, former Huntington coach, the school's first state champion and father of the current coach.
Huntington's Logan Grass, ranked No. 1 at 106 pounds in the latest West Virginia Coaches Association individual rankings, started the match with a pin against Hunter Cline. Grass got a quick takedown and the pin came at 1:18.
"The 106 sets the tempo," Archer said. "He's has to be the igniter. You've got to have that."
Huntington's Jordan Allen, ranked No. 1 at 113, followed with a 3-0 win over Lance Hill, No. 2 at that weight. It was a battle of defending state champs.
After that, Huntington's Johnathan Spence (120), Chase Childers (126), Billy Waldeck (138), Paden Christian (152) and Carter Capehart (182) all won their matches by two-point margins.
"It's exciting to hear that," Archer said. "That's what you have to do in a close match."
Parkersburg South's four wins all came by pin. They were Jordan Quiocho (132), Briar Shively (160), Drake Mills (172) and Matthew Dixon (195).
"We've got to stay off our backs," Archer said.
Nigale Cabell got a major decision (11-2) over Zach Haddix of the Patriots and that secured the win and ended Huntington's four-match losing streak to the Region I power.
"He came back strong," Archer said of Cabell, who once was ranked No. 1 in his weight class but has dropped to No. 5 in the latest rankings.
Donna Dixon, first-year coach at Parkersburg South, said she believes the outcome will serve as inspiration for the Patriots when they return to Big Sandy.
"I won't have to say a lot. Hopefully this will make them mad enough and they won't want to be second again," Dixon said.
The Patriots did alter their lineup a bit. Logan Ball, ranked No. 2 at 106, did not wrestle. Also out were Jake Alexander (145) and Chip Sturek (152). Heavyweight Thomas Ball, who lost to Toney Kitts, was seeing his first action of the season. Health and an injury had kept him sidelined.
"I'd have liked a different outcome," Dixon said. "We could've wrestled better. We'll learn from this."
For the Patriots, this was their last action until the Region 1 tournament next weekend at Brooke High.
Huntington's final dual is Friday night against University in Morgantown.