MORGANTOWN — After a big win last week over Parkersburg, the University High wrestling team celebrated a jump in the Class AAA state rankings with an unbeaten team record in a meet hosted by Morgantown High on Jan. 10.
The Hawks, who jumped up one spot to third in the latest statewide poll, secured a 2-0 mark with wins over MHS, 66-15, and ninth-ranked John Marshall, 36-31.
UHS’s match against the Monarchs proved to be the more exciting of the night.
As expected, the Hawks built an early lead, thanks to the success of their lower weight classes. Jace Stockett (106), Jake Staud (120) and Braeden Pauley (138) all recorded pins, while Jacob Simpson scored a technical fall after an 18-3 score, helping University amass a 23-8 advantage in the team competition.
That lead dissipated by the conclusion of the 182-pound weight class, though, when John Marshall edged ahead, 28-27, with three classes to go. From there, UHS got huge performances from two wrestlers to close out the victory.
Josh Sanders pinned Brandon Durrah, in 1:30, and Ben Gribble held off Gabe McCardle for a 6-1 decision, securing the win for the Hawks.
“That was the key,” UHS head coach Ken Maisel said of Sanders’ effort. “The kid he wrestled placed in states last year. He’s done that for us several times this year. He’s very quietly building a really good record, and that was the difference in the match, for sure.”
University followed up the victory over John Marshall with an easy win over a depleted Morgantown team.
Able to field wrestlers in only seven weight classes, MHS mustered points in three matches, two of which were won by pins. Alex Shriver took down Joshua Rudmann, in 1:34, in the 160 class, and Neil McKnight bested Liam Fowler, in 1:09, in the heavyweight bout for MHS.
“There have been a lot of setbacks,” MHS head coach Joe Abu-Ghannam said. “You can’t win as a team. I understand that, but it’s still frustrating.
“Being short on numbers is completely out of our control. We know we’re down. We know we’re hurting. We don’t have the numbers to win, but individually we can go out and give them our best. That’s what we need to focus on.”
McKnight certainly seems to have taken that lesson to heart. The senior was undefeated on the night, recording a pin in MHS’s opening matchup with Parkersburg. He then capped the event with a 3-2 decision over John Marshall’s Brady Williams, the only points for the Mohigans in a 77-3 setback.
Morgantown fell, 60-15, to fourth-ranked Parkersburg, which finished 1-1 on the evening. The Big Reds came up short against the Monarchs, 39-30, and did not compete against UHS.
UHS and MHS now look forward to two big tournaments in the next two weekends. First up will be the Winner’s Choice Tournament, Jan. 12-13, in Fairmont, followed by the OVAC meet, Jan. 18-20, in Wheeling.