PARKERSBURG — Riverside had a chance to dethrone host Parkersburg heading into the finals of the Mountain State Athletic Conference wrestling tournament Saturday, but the host Big Reds came through when they had to.
Winning six of seven championship matches, including two critical bouts against the Warriors, the Big Reds scored 184 ½ points to outpace Riverside (150), Cabell Midland (104), George Washington (101) and Woodrow Wilson (89).
It marked the fourth straight conference title for Parkersburg.
“I think we wrestled really well today,” Parkersburg coach Matt Littleton said. “Our upper guys got the job done today.
“The team came together as a whole. It’s not just one or two guys, everybody did their job and that’s how you get in these positions.”
Parkersburg’s Aydan Edwards found himself down 4-1 in the third period to Riverside’s Zach Holstion in the 145-pound championship tilt but came up with a takedown with 32 seconds left to complete a late comeback and earn a 5-4 victory.
In the next match at 152 pounds, the Big Reds’ Noah Inboden dominated from start to finish, taking care of Riverside’s Austin Barker 18-2 for the win.
Heading into those matches, the Warriors were down just seven points, but with those two decisions the Big Reds put the tournament away.
“That was a big swing,” Riverside coach Mark Scites said. “I knew if we had any chance of catching them, those two matches were going to be huge. I thought at 145, I think we blew that as coaches, we should’ve done something different. At 152, he just got beat, the other kid was better today.”
“Aydan’s match was a swing in itself,” Littleton said. “That kid beat us earlier in the year and we found a way to come back and get that on our side. Then we went on our run at 152 and 160 at getting bonus points in those matches.
“It helps when you’ve got a guy like Aydan coming through and winning a tight match, battling back and giving us a spark.”
Garrett Donahue (120), Bo Moler (138), John Martin Best (160) and Chace Mathess (182) also won individual titles for the Big Reds.
But the Kanawha Valley wasn’t without its own champions. Hurricane’s Lucas Talley defeated Parkersburg’s George Cantwell 10-6 at 113 pounds, George Washington’s Thomas Hartley pinned Riverside’s Kaleb Ramirez at 132, the Patriots’ Hayden Stone pinned Cabell Midland’s Ethan Cochran at 170 and Riverside’s Austin Chapman won the heavyweight division with a 8-2 decision over Woodrow Wilson’s Ian Pomeroy.
Huntington had finished as the runner-up in each of the last three championships and figured to be a factor on Saturday, but the flu bug hit the Highlanders coming in, leaving Huntington depleted. The Highlanders finished eighth, behind St. Albans and Hurricane.
Riverside, which has worked for the last two seasons to put itself on the map, entered the week ranked ninth in the latest wvmat.com Class AAA poll. Though a team win on Saturday would have been a nice feather in the cap, next Saturday is and has been the goal all year for the Warriors as the team prepares to host the Region 3 tournament.
Scites said that even though the team came up a little short on Saturday, it will provide a nice momentum boost heading into the regional.
“I’m happy, even though some of the teams had (junior varsity) guys, anytime you can finish second in a tournament, especially the MSAC, I’m happy,” Scites said. “We tell them, even though there’s some JV teams here, this rolls into regionals. It’s a tough tournament and now they’ve really got to get ready, it’s time to go. It’s basically over. Now it’s regionals and if you lose, you’re out.”
Best was named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler with Littleton being awarded the conference’s coach of the year honor.