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University tops Parkersburg South for Class AAA state duals championship

FAIRLEA — Brock Kehler is as much a sure thing as there is in West Virginia high school wrestling — right up there with Parkersburg South’s Gage Wright.

So when No. 1 University’s dual with the second-ranked Patriots came down to its undefeated, top-ranked heavyweight, people liked the Hawks’ chances.

“The nice thing is,” head coach Ken Maisel said, “when you have him in the lineup and you’re either tied or whatever it is at the end, then you know you’re OK.”

It played out just as expected. Kehler’s first-period pin — his third of the day — gave University a 40-30 victory over South for the Class AAA West Virginia Dual Team State Championship Saturday at the State Fairgrounds.

Kehler was named his team’s Most Outstanding Wrestler after a dominating day for the 285-pound junior.

The team was just as strong as Kehler, advancing to the championship match with a 76-6 win over Greenbrier East in the quarterfinals and a 56-12 victory over Ripley in the semifinals.

The 10-point win over Parkersburg South helped University claim its first state duals championship, unseating the three-time defending champion Patriots. The Hawks also, in essence, defended their No. 1 state ranking.

“These guys have a lot of goals, and this was one of them, so that’s one goal done,” Maisel said. “It’s not the major goal, but it’s one done. We’ll get to practice Monday and keep working towards the next one.”

The major goal, of course, is a state championship, something that has eluded the Hawks. They have been tantalizingly close, with runner-up finishes each of the last two seasons.

“We’ve got some guys that are very dedicated,” Maisel said. “When the season’s over, they’re right at it. They’re wrestling in tournaments, they’re lifting, and that’s the difference. That’s the difference the last couple of years, of these guys doing the extra. And now it’s starting to pay off. We’ve got a youth club, we’ve got a good middle school (program) going. This was the goal in mind, I don’t know, year 28 or 29. So it’s good. We’ve just got to keep it rolling.”

Wright, the nation’s top-ranked 175-pounder, notched his 100th career pin in the title match.

University 165-pounder Luka Felix picked up career win No. 150.

The mission for University the next month is obvious.

“We don’t want to be second again,” Maisel said. “That’s the goal, and we’ll do everything again from a coaches standpoint to get them there. We’ll see what happens the end of February, beginning of March.”

No. 4 Woodrow Wilson won the third-place match over No. 6 Ripley, Wheeling Park beat Greenbrier East for fifth and No. 3 Spring Mills topped Musselman for seventh.

Greenbrier East, the hometown team making its state duals debut, upset Spring Mills 42-38 in the consolation round.

By Gary Fauber/Beckley Register-Herald