Wildcats Take Pride in First Year For School’s Wrestling Program
By ED PARSONS
Many perhaps had doubts when Paden City announced it would have its first-ever high school wrestling team. Coach Mike Owens, who said he had been trying for years to get the endeavor approved, was not one of the nay-sayers.
“I knew from the start there were some interested, and I knew the school had potential. We didn’t have any equipment and nowhere to practice, but we worked hard to get everything we needed. A lot of people pitched in, and I feel we have had success,” Owens has said after the team’s first season.
“We actually won some matches, and we had a tournament champion in Rander Amos. That says a lot for a first-year program. I am proud of every one of these kids, and we look forward to next season.”
Rander Amos, a senior with very little experience going into the regionals, wrestled like a veteran. In his first round match with a Fairmont Senior opponent – top seed Will Ryan, Amos hit the mat ready to go. At the 3:15 mark he got a takedown and a roll over pin to get the win. Unfortunately, in his second bout, he faced a highly-rated St. Mary’s veteran in Dalton Houser who, after a brief battle, got Amos in a nice underneath move to record a pin at the 35 second point of the match.
Amos fell into the consolation round, still alive for a state berth. He went up against Cameron’s Gavin Stern, who managed to hang on until the 3:57 point when Amos got a takedown and a pin to secure a chance to Huntington. Next up was a big battle with Oak Glen’s star Wyatt Strum. Strum got the win at the 2:55 mark, by pin, and ended Amos’ season. Falling one match short of a trip to the state meet is a victory by itself for a first-time program wrestler, and something to always remember.
Paden City also had the 220 lb weight class covered as junior Ryan Cross, a tough kid, dropped two straight, falling out of the competition. However, he didn’t go down without a fight, as he lost to Keyser’s Dalton Ray by pin and Fairmont Senior star, Dalton Ray. Cross, a junior, will be back next season. He is a big strong kid who, once he learns the moves, will be hard to beat.
In the 152 pound class, Paden City’s Dusty Clegg dropped his first two matches. He was defeated by pin from Frankfort’s Kiszkn and Magnolia’s Wetzel.
Bryce Hunt, wrestling in the 145 pound class for the Wildcats, lost in the first round to Cameron’s Logan Mackey, at the 5:09 mark. Hunt then fell in the consolation round to North Marion High School’s Kade Hayes by a tough 5-3 decision.
Wildcat Doneven Clark, a promising freshman, lost in the 132 pound weight class by pin in the first round to East Fairmont’s Lane Flink. He was eliminated in the consolation round by St. Mary’s Brian Rhodes.
Paden City wrestling Head Coach Mike Owens and Assistant Coach Mike Shreves provided the following about the Wildcats initial season:
Team dual record: eight wins, 13 losses, winning 62 percent of the time
The Paden City Wildcats have drawn a conclusion to its inaugural grappling season. “As a coach, I feel that our team has experienced a lot more success this season than a lot of people thought we would. We showed up at every wrestling event we scheduled and expected to make the other team work for every win they got over us. We will make no excuses for the way this first season went. For having a team of first year coaches and wrestlers, I feel we surpassed our expectations and the expectations of the wrestling community,” stated Coach Owens
Owens said he can proudly say that every event this team went to, coaches and spectators would say, “For a first year team, it’s hard to believe you have accomplished as much as you have.”
“For a coach that is a big boost,” Owens said.
The Wildcats wrestled some great wrestling programs, namely Magnolia, Cameron, Ritchie County, Doddridge County, Tyler, Weir, Oak Glen, Fairmont Senior, Beaver Local, Buckeye trail, and more. Match-up wise, these schools should have whipped the mat with the Paden City wrestlers, but the Wildcat grapplers were able to secure some major upsets wrestling some of these schools.
Individually, the team has had some exciting matches and heartbreaking losses. Each of the kids that came out this year for wrestling, quickly realized that wrestling is unlike any other sport. There is an amount of conditioning, both mentally and physically, it takes to be able to succeed in this sport.
On day one of the season the Wildcats started with 12 wrestlers. On the last day of the season, Feb. 10, the Wildcats had five wrestlers. The loss of wrestlers came by kids realizing this sport was not for them, injuries, and eligibility issues.
Individual wrestler records, accomplishments, and finishes, in the words of Coach Owens:
Doneven Clark – As a freshman, Clark posted a 9 and 18 record. Clark is a fast passed wrestler who comes out like a ball of fire. His only downfall was he would get out of position. I am looking forward to the next three years with Clark. I think if he stays committed and in the weight room, he will become great wrestler and eventually qualify for state.
Loren Little – She spent the majority of the season on Junior Varsity. She was able to make it on the mat a few times, suffering losses in each of those outings. Loren showed a lot of guts by coming out for the team and sticking it out all season. I’m hoping she continues to wrestler and continues to work hard; she has the potential.
Bryce Hunt – As a sophomore, Hunt took on a leadership role for our team. He finished with a 15 and 9 record. Hunt took fourth at the Larry Ritchie Memorial Tournament. Hunt was a technically sound wrestler with a lot of ability. Unfortunately, a nagging knee injury hindered his ability to wrestle. Hunt is in 10th grade; he will be a huge asset to this program in the future.
Mikey Shreves – Mikey had a disappointing season, Mikey suffered a season-ending injury in his third-ever match. Mikey tried to continue to wrestle, but eventually had to have Tommy Johns Surgery. Even while being injured, Mikey was still able to post a 4-4 record. Mikey is a junior that is very hungry and eager to return next year.
Dusty Clegg – Dusty done very well this season. Although Dusty was a JV wrestler most of the season, he showed guts and determination. Dusty did post a 6 win 11 loss varsity record. Dusty will return next season.
Rander Amos – Amos was a wrestler who had the most success this season. Rander won the Larry Ritchie Tournament at Tyler and won matches at the OVAC Tournament, and at Regionals. Rander was one win away from qualifying for the state wrestling tournament, suffering a heartbreaking loss to Oak Glenn. Rander posted a 17 win and 8 loss record. Amos is a senior who had the physical and mental ability to succeed in this sport; unfortunately, we didn’t have a wrestling team until his senior year. Rander will be greatly missed next season.
Ryan Cross – Cross is a junior who posted a 8 win and 16 loss record. Cross was a warrior this season. He was out weighted in each of his matches and still went out and was able to get victories some high caliber wrestlers. Ryan was a Team Captain, who demanded the respect of the team and ensured the team was working hard and competing. Ryan took fourth at the Larry Ritchie Memorial Tournament at Tyler. Ryan has already committed to wrestling next year and will take on a team leader role.
Marcus Allen / Clayton Thomas – Marcus and Clayton suffered a season ending injuries early in the season. Both these kids had the athletic and physical ability to succeed in this sport. If not for the injuries they could have had a great season.
Marcus, a senior, posted a 7 win 11 loss record. Marcus, after being injured, continued his leadership role and never missed a practice or match. Marcus will be missed next year. The Wildcats also would like to thank Marcus for his service as a member of the West Virginia National Guard.
Clayton posted a 4 win 1 loss record. Clayton is a sophomore and the Wildcats are looking forward to next season as he builds on his 4 and 1 record.
Also returning next year will be EJ Weber. Weber was unable to wrestle this season after having ACL surgery during football. EJ is a big strong young man and will be a huge asset to the program next season.