MORGANTOWN, W. Va. — Anyone who knows University grapplers Jacob and Matt Simpson will tell you that no one works harder than the set of twins. That’s likely why it resonated so hard in the program when Matt failed to qualify for the state tournament two weeks ago, bringing an abrupt end to his senior season.
“Me, Jacob, and Matt — they’re two guys that we go to workouts, we lift, we run, we go wrestle up in Pennsylvania,” said UHS wrestler Jake Staud, who was the Class AAA state champion at 120 pounds last season. “We put that work in. They’re probably the hardest workers I’ve ever met.”
The siblings were on track to close their career with the Hawks in Huntington, at the state wrestling tournament, which begins today. However, Matt ended up on the receiving end of a hard slam from an opponent during regional competition, sustaining a concussion and had to forfeit.
“The young man who worked so hard that wrestling is his life had to be told his high school career was over,” UHS wrestling coach Ken Maisel said. “It was one of the toughest things we’ve ever had to go through.
“Those kids don’t have much, and wrestling is their life. It was very difficult. I can’t imagine what it was like for him.”
Despite the tough loss, the Hawks will still send 12 qualifiers to the state meet. Staud is one of the favorites to compete for a state title at 126 pounds, while Jacob Simpson also won a regional championship at 132 pounds.
Brise Bennett (145) and Brayden Pauley (160) will each look to become place-winners at the state meet for a second time, while Simpson will look to place for his fourth-consecutive year.
Bennett, Pauley and Simpson are all seniors.
“It means it was a pretty good class,” Maisel said. “They weren’t always good, either. It shows these young guys that if you stick with us and stick with the plan you can be there, too. I’m excited for them, and I’m excited to watch them compete. We always talk about wrestling being about who’s best at the right time, and hopefully our training will allow us to do so.”
Simpson will look to avenge his brother’s injury and fulfill a career-long dream by capturing his first-ever state championship.
“I think his chances are good. He’s certainly prepared himself to do that,” Maisel said. “We think of it as, if I gave you 12 hours to cut down a tree, you’d take 11 to sharpen the axe, but it’d only take one to cut down the tree. It’s all about preparation. We’ve sharpened our axe. It would mean so much to me, because it would mean so much to him.
“If he doesn’t get it, he doesn’t — sometimes you work really hard for something and you don’t get what you want. That’s one of the lessons sports teaches us.”
Grant Oxley (106); Mason Pauley (113); Jake Staud (126); Jacob Simpson (132); Calvin Matthews (138); Brise Bennett (145); Elijah Wellings-Osha (152); Brayden Pauley (160); Will Miller (170); Sean Murray (182); Josh Sanders (195); Corbin Turney (285).