In the AAA division,defending state champion Parkersburg High is the team to beat, as the Big Reds return no fewer than 6 finalists from last year's championship team: Jake Hays, runner-up, 103; Robert Shyver, runner-up 112; Brandon Rader, champ 119; Chance Litton, runner-up 130; Lou Thomas, champ 215; and Ryan Dearman, champ 275. Also, Joey Lindamood was a qualifier at 160.|
Cross-town rival Parkersburg South expects to return seven finalists from last year, but not as many place points as PHS. Look for the Patriots to build around returners Aaron Kelly, 4th 103; Fexlix Osuna-Cotto, 4th 112; Chad Porter, runner-up 119; Shaun Smith, 5th 135; Sean Smith, 3rd 145; Codi Norman runner-up 152; and Kyle Walters, runner-up 160. Returning qualifiers may include Ryan Mather, 140; Curt Radcliff, 189; Josh Davis, 215; and Josiah Dorton, 275.
Huntington High is tabbed as pre-season number three. The Highlanders qualified a total of 11 underclassmen last year and placed six. Look for Coach Archer to build around a solid nucleus of: Zach Fraley, 6th 103; Steve Riner, 5th 112; Chad Nelson, 6th 135; C.J. Runyon, 6th 171; James Nelson, 5th 189; and Kenny Hutchinson, 4th 215. Returning qualifiers include Shawn Dixon, 119; Drew Hetzer, 125; Daniel Cook, 130; Isaac Myers, 152; and Ryan Cook, 275.
The Brooke Bruins appear to be on the upswing, having turned in a solid third place finish last year. Look for Brooke to be led by Jarrod Shaw, 5th 103; Matt Smith, 4th 119; Jonathan McFarland, runner-up 125; and Braden Shaw, 3rd 130, along with returning qualifiers Mike Durbin, 135; Nathan Loughran, 171; Devin Dulaney 215; and Derrick Molnar, 275, along with 2002 qualifier Dana Davis.
John Marshall is picked at #5. The Monarchs look to return a pair of finalists: Dustin Richey, champ, 145; and Corey Adkins, 6th 152. Possible returning qualifiers include Alex Lee, 140; Shawn Simmons, 160; Zach Moore, 171; Josh Ewing, 189; and Corey Ebbert, 275.
Wheeling Park comes in at #6. The Patriots hope to return Abbie Rush, third 103; and Cody Tominak, champ 189. Returning qualifiers may include Evan Leifheit, 130; Jesse Mestrovic, 160; and Bud Hercules, 215.
Ripley finished fifth in Huntington last year, but lost several heavy hitters to graduation and is tabbed at #7. The Vikings look to build around Mitch Smith, champ 140. Returning qualifiers include Seth Phalen, 103; Jr Villafana, 112; Bobby Cooper, 119; Anthony Kurnot, 130; Richie Anderson, 135; Derek Stover, 152; and Tyler Villers, 160;
East Fairmont comes in at #8. The Bees return three finalists in Shawn Moore, 6th 140; Billy Ray, 6th 160; and Jesse Valentine, 6th 275. Other returning qualifiers may include Chris Greynolds, 103; Andrew Hartley 112; Shane Morgan, 135; and Jared Hamrick, 152. East also lost a number of heavy hitters from last year, but a look at the feeder schools in the NCAC (Mason-Dixon Conference tournament from last year) indicates that East may be reloading this year.
University High cracked the Top Ten at the state tournament last year for the first time since joining the AAA ranks in 1991, and is pegged at #9. Kyle Turnubull returns to defend his championship title at 112 last year, and Coach Maisel also looks for the return of Chris Marshall, 5th 130, and David Campbell, runner-up 135. These three will score points at tournament time, but team depth is the question. Newcomers Henry Miller and Tennessee qualifier Aaron Brewster will be new faces who will give the Hawks a shot in the arm.
Jefferson rounds out the poll at #10. The Cougars look to return Codie Gustines, 4th 140; and Corie Gustines, 4th 152. Returning qualifiers may include Marshall Chapman, 112; Jon Smith, 119; and Bill Walters, 160.
Cabell-Midland may be the darkhorse this year to move up. The Knights return a pair of finalists in Matt Wilson, 6th 112; and Michael Cremeans, 4th 171. Returning qualifiers may include Mike Wilson, 103; Patrick Setliff, 125; Chris Taylor, 130; Zach Sparks, 189; Andrew Varney, 215; and Adam Richardson, 275. Feeder schools Milton Middle and Barboursville Middle may provide enough new talent to push Midland into the Top Ten. The Nitro Wildcats return Anthony Easter, champ 103. Returning qualifiers may include Will Evans, 112; Chris Myers, 140; and Ben Young, 152. Morgantown fans may wonder how the Mohigans can return 19 underclassmen points and not make the pre-season top ten. The Mohigans return three finalists from last year: Jared Garvin, 3rd 119; Michah Gerasimovich, 4th 125; and Mike DeVault, 6th 145. Their problem will be getting enough wrestlers out of the monster Region I tournament and in to the Civic Center in February.
In the AA/A division, Oak Glen remains the team to beat. The Golden Bears potentially return 4 state finalists including Brandon Miller 5th 103; Jess Mahan 3rd 130; Garrett Railing 4th 160; and Rhett Northcraft, 5th 171. Potential returning qualifiers include Dirk Baker, 119;and Shane Wright, 125. Yes, we did the math. On paper, it might seem that Oak Glen might be down this year, but never discount the depth in the Golden Bear practice room.
Will this be the year thatWilliamstown dethrones Oak Glen? The Yellowjackets appear to be loaded with talent this year, and, as was the case last year, actually would seem to have more returning place points than Oak Glen. The 'jackets may return six finalists in Jesse Biddle, 3rd 119; Anthony DiMarco, runner-up 130; Ryan Elder, runner-up 140; Alan Tracewell, runner-up 152; Shane Smith, champ 160; and Lee Lauderman 4th 171.
Or will it be Cameron? The Dragons hope to welcome back four finalists in Tim Cumpston, 3rd 103; Casey Hughes, champ 152; Isaac Stewart, runner-up 160; and C.J. Manning, 4th 275. Other returning qualifiers may include Brandon Antill, 112; Noah O'Neil, 125; Kelly Hughes, 130; Jeff Cumpston 145; Adam Cooper 171; and Steve Blake 189.
Shady Spring comes in at #4 pre-season. Leading the way will be a couple of State Champs in Josh Neal, 112; and Derek Scarbro, 130. Anthony Harvey was runner-up at 125 last year. Possible returning qualifiers include Josh Lester, 103; Andrew Lester 119; Justin Chapman, 135; Chuck Meadows 145; Josh Jones, 160; Dustin Thompson 171; and Andy Redden, 275.
Calhoun County is tabbed at pre-season #5. Coach Mike Stump looks to build his team around returning finalists Bryan Gungle, 6th 103; Justin Ashley champ 125; and Eric Metz, runner-up 145. Returning qualifiers may include Andrew Cummings, 130; Justin Price, 135; and Paul Goodrich 140.
The fifth through tenth places settle out this way. Braxton County may return 8 qualifiers, including 3 finalists -- Brandon Digman, 6th 125; Jordan Flynt 6th 135; and Lance Hines 4th 140. Returning qualifiers may include James Adams, 119; A.J. Burks, 130; Brandon Anderson, 145; Patrick O'Malley, 171; and Charles Blankenship, 215.
Independence is tagged at #7. The Patriots from Raleigh County may return two finalists in Robert Rash, runner-up 103; and Robert Ward, 4th 189. Returning qualifiers may include Todd Bragg, 112; Barry Hodges, 140; Justin Ward, 152; and Levi Ward, 160.
Always tough Wirt County also appears to have some depth this year, and steps in at pre-season #8. The Tigers hope to return Daniel Allen, 4th 119; Matt Dye, 6th 140; and Jacob Lowe, 6th 275. Potential returning qualifiers include Dustin Rogers, 103; Tim McCoy, 130; and Dustin Miller, 145;
Greenbrier West expects to return two finalists in Colby Painter, 5th 119; and Mark Smith, 6th 171. Potential returning qualifiers include Travis Highlander, 103; Sheldon Brown, 125; Keith Martin, 130; Harrison Palmer, 135; Brandon Boone, 152; Matt Osbourne, 160; Chad Crookshanks, 215; and Maynor Crookshanks, 275.
Berkeley Springs rounds out the poll at #10. The Indians look for the return of Chris Moore, 5th 140; and and Matt Mason 5th 160. Potential returning qualifiers include Lucas Andrews, 112; and Randy Waugh, 152.
Ravenswood looks to return Judd Billings, champ 103; and Sam Dennis, 4th 145; and may return qualifier Andrew Schindler, 171. Lewis County may return two finalists in Jeremy McCarty, 4th 130; and A.J. Freda, champ 275. Ritchie County should return two finalists in Jeremy Wince, 5th 145; and Travis Boone, 6th 275. Brad Swiger was the only other underclassman qualifier for the Rebels last year. These three teams will score points at tournament time, but team depth is the question.
On the other hand, Point Pleasant and Roane County look to have some depth returning, but do they have the heavy-hitters to score points in tournaments? Point is expected to return Cody Pumphrey, 6th 112. Other possible returning qualifiers for Point include Josh McCarty, 125; David Bonecutter, 152; Jacob Carr, 171; Heath Shirey, 275; and Daniel Tench, 215. Roane County has no finalists returning, but expects to return 7 qualifiers in Kenny Sasser, 103; Joey Davis 112; Rick Griffin 119; Bryan Bush 135; Evan Kendall 140; Corey Burgess 160; and Sam Craddock, 171.