Knights matmen send duo to state
Cullen Grover, Tyler Consolidated’s standout 215 pound wrestler, added yet one more chapter to his growing record of accomplishments over the weekend.
He cemented his name in the record books even more by winning the Region I championship at his weight, and, on top of that, being named the tournament’s outstanding wrestler.
This gives Grover his second trip to the State Championships in Huntington, having qualified last year as well. Grover will be joined by Nate Taylor, the Knights’ notable 140 pounder, who finished third in his division.
Grover defied the odds in his accomplishment. He came into the tournament seeded third in his weight class, but apparently chose to pay no heed to the rankings.
He started his quest with a quick fall over Adam Copeland of Clay-Battelle which moved him into position to face the second seeded wrestler, Oak Glen’s Justin Greathouse.
After falling behind 5-0 in the first period, Grover started to peck away at his opponent’s lead and took the match 7-6 by virtue of a reversal in the final stanza. In the finals, Grover found himself face to face with Weir High’s Derrick Rovira, the first seed in Region I, and the number one ranked 215 pounder in West Virginia.
Again, the Knight wrestler found himself on the short end of the score at the end of the first period. Getting stronger as the match went on; Grover caught up with his opponent in the second period, and then totally dominated the third period to earn his place on the top step of the winner’s platform with an 11-3 decision.
In addition, his performance was impressive enough to merit his selection as the tournament’s outstanding wrestler as voted on by the coaches of all teams represented.
“I would have to say that on Saturday at Regionals Cullen wrestled better than I have ever seen him wrestle,” said Head Coach Larry Richie. “He had a great day of wrestling last year on the last day of State competition in Huntington, but I believe that this regional performance would even eclipse that.
“He made a couple mistakes, especially in the first period against Oak Glen where he nearly got pinned. But he never got rattled, and he wrestled with more intensity than I have seen this year. It is like Coach McKeever says, Cullen listens to us and does his best to follow advice.”
Grover’s victory gave Coach Richie an icing-on-the-cake scenario as he will retire after the state meet next week.
“Of course it is no secret, nor has it ever been, that this is the last team I will coach,” said Richie. “What a magnificent retirement present a regional champion, and on top of that, a tournament outstanding wrestler.”
Nate Taylor, Tyler Consolidated’s only other place winner, came into the foray seeded third and wrestled well enough to justify that ranking. After a shaky start in his first match, Taylor went on to pin Magnolia’s Joey Ingold in the second period. Nate then challenged second seeded Tyler George of Williamstown, but came up short in a 5-0 loss.
In the consolations, Taylor assured himself a ticket to the States as he rolled up a 21 3 Tech Fall over Ritchie’s Andrew Sellers.
The Tyler Consolidated 140 pounder ended his day taking the third place with a 7-4 decision over Wade Polling of St. Marys.
While these were the only two Silver Knight wrestlers to make the cut for State competition, several other Tyler combatants managed to add a win to their records. Zack Robinson scored a fall in the first period to earn a fifth place at 119 pounds. Nick Robinson ended on a similar note by taking fifth place on a 7-0 decision. Brandon Grimes at 160 advanced to the second round consolations with a fall in 2:22, but could go no further.
John Brosky at 103, Nathan Bolin 130, and Dustin Phillips 135 all showed moments of good wrestling, but were unable to capitalize on them for a win.
“But it’s not just about Cullen! We are a team. We think like a team, we practice like a team, we wrestle as a team, and when one of us succeeds we all share in that success,” added Richie.
“It was gratifying to see Nate place again this year after failing to capitalize on his chances to qualify for States last year. A couple of the guys came close, taking fifth place, one place away from qualifying. And a couple of the young ones have shown enough improvement that, even though they failed to place, I think they will be coming into their own next year.
“I felt bad for Nick Robinson and Dustin Phillips. They each had an outside chance of going, but didn’t make it. And, being seniors, it was their last chance.
Likewise, Brody Northcraft had a very real chance to place had he not suffered a shoulder injury. At least he is only a junior and should come back all the more hungry for State recognition next year.”
Oak Glen won the tournament with 283.5 points and qualified 13 out of their 14 wrestlers for States. Williamstown had a strong showing with 218.5 points, nine qualifiers, and five individual champions.
St. Marys with 144 points finished in third place, one point above Cameron.
The Silver Knights ended up in ninth place with 63.5 points.