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Prep Notebook: Wrestling coach bids farewell

Mar. 04, 2013 @ 12:00 AM

For Bruce Niday, his exit from Big Sandy Superstore Arena on Feb. 23 was one of the most difficult departures he's ever made.

The 66th West Virginia High School Wrestling Tournament came to an end that night, and so did Niday's coaching career at Spring Valley High School. Niday cited health reasons for his leaving the chair.

"I really didn't think about it when I left (the building)," Niday said. "It didn't hit me until afterwards. After all those years of coaching. ... wow!"

Keith Schafer, Niday's long-time assistant, also called it quits after the state tournament.

Niday coached for 10 years at Vinson, then took over at Spring Valley when the school opened in 1998. He's the only wrestling coach the Timberwolves have ever had. That gave him tenure among coaches at the Wayne County school.

Niday wrestled at Huntington High (1982 graduate) and modeled his programs after Bill Archer, coach of the Pony Express at the old Huntington High and Highlanders at the new school. In his first year at Vinson, the Tigers had six wrestlers.

"Things got better," Niday said. "I never dreamed things would pan out like this."

For Niday, the highlight at Vinson was Johnny Creamer winning the Class AA/A state title at 130 pounds in 1995. Creamer finished that season 33-1.

In his first state tournament at Spring Valley, the Timberwolves came in 34th with 2 points. Yes, things did get better. The one down side is the school's never had an individual champion. Several came close, the latest being Dane Niday at 140 in 2010. He lost to Parkersburg South's Tyler Green in the finals.

Niday coached three sons at Spring Valley. In addition to Dane, there was Joey and Nicco. Dane and Nicco now wrestle for Ohio Valley University.

"I wanted one real bad," Niday said of a state champ. "We had chances. We'd get kids in the semifinals and then get beat. Dane was the last hope."

Anthony Emana is expected to be Spring Valley's next coach after working as an assistant this season.

Niday will be around to offer advice. The decision means he will now have the chance to see his sons wrestle in college.

"I hated that," he said of having to miss their college career up to this point.

Niday will say his final farewell on March 10 at the team's annual banquet at Vinson Middle School.

LOOKING AHEAD: Practice for the 2013-14 wrestling season in West Virginia starts Nov. 18. The first matches will be the week of Dec. 4. Regional tournaments will be Feb. 21-22 and the state tournament will be Feb. 27-March 1 at Big Sandy.

PREDICTIONS: Prognosticators at JJHuddle.com, the source for Ohio high school sports since 1999, made their picks for who will make it to the Final Four in the four divisions in girls basketball. In Division III, it's Orville vs. Columbus Africentric in one semifinal and Fairland against Anna in the other. Anna and Africentric win to make the title game and Africentric is the pick for that one. Potential roadblocks for Fairland are Richwood North Union (regional semifinal) and Beverly Fort Frye (regional final).

GOOD TIMING: Huntington Prep's Andrew Wiggins, the winner of the 2013 Naismith Boys Basketball High School Player of the Year Award last week, made a Wednesday recruiting visit to the University of Kentucky. He watched the Wildcats beat Mississippi State in Rupp Arena. He's at the University of Kansas on Monday before a weekend visit to the University of North Carolina.

The 6-foot-8 Wiggins, who made a visit to Florida State earlier, pumped in 40 points Saturday as the Express routed United Leadership Academy of Canada, 131-64, to end the regular season 30-3.

ICE COLD: The Greenbrier East girls basketball team normally shoots well from 3-point land. The Lady Spartans picked a bad time for an off night. They went 0-for-23 from behind the arc in Thursday's 54-45 loss to Capital at home in the Class AAA, Region III co-championship game. The Lady Cougars (9-14) advance to the State Tournament and Greenbrier East, the top-ranked team in Class AAA (24-1), is done for the year.

Capital also had a 55-39 edge in rebounds. Capital is No. 8 seed in the state tournament and has a first-round date against No. 1 Spring Valley on Wednesday at 7:15 p.m. Spring Valley beat Capital, 70-40, at home on Jan. 21.

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