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Area Teams Compete At State Wrestling Tournament

By Randy Rutherford - Sports Writer | Apr 28, 2021

Tyler Consolidated High School, Magnolia High School, and Paden City High School combined to send eight wrestlers to the state tournament in Huntington, West Virginia at Mountain Health Arena on April 21 and 22nd. Representing Tyler Consolidated High School was Sean Winfrey, Danny McCune, Kaden Huffman and Trenton Huffman. Representing Magnolia High School was Lucas Zombotti and Jason Biesel. For the first time in wrestling school history, representing Paden City High School was Jason Spragg and Doneven Clark.

Two of the area schools capped off their season with wrestlers on the podium. Magnolia wrestler Jason Biesel finished 3rd in the State in the 132 lb weight class while TCHS placed two top 6 wrestlers, Trenton Huffman 3rd in the 160 lb weight class and Sean Winfrey 6th in the 152 lb weight class.

Head Coach Paden Morris from TCHS shared, “As a coach I am very pleased with how this season played out given all the circumstances and challenges we were faced by factors out of our control with the ongoing pandemic. We had high goals and we reached a lot of those goals. To finish as a top 10 team in the state is a big step in the right direction for a young team.” The coach went on to explain the future is very bright for his Silver Knight wrestlers, but the work doesn’t and can’t stop here. “This group of athletes is committed, work hard, and push themselves every day. It takes a special type of athlete to commit their all to this sport and these guys have done that together. The success we had in the state tournament and all season is a testament to the effort the entire team had put in all year. To leave Huntington with two place winners, Sean Winfrey (first ever freshman to place in TCHS school history) and Trenton Huffman (highest place winner since 2009), both these guys battled their way to hard earned spots on the podium. This success is definitely something we can build on as everyone on the team returns next season,” acknowledged Coach Morris.

Magnolia Head Wrestling Coach Eric McKeever shared his thoughts about his state bound wrestlers. “Both Jason and Lucas wrestled well. Lucas, only a sophomore, really turned it on and gained a lot of confidence near the end of the year. He was able to gain a win in his first trip and hopefully that will carry momentum into next year,” said Coach McKeever.

The coach also spoke about wrestler Jason Biesel’s journey. “Jason is probably one of the most natural gifted athletes I’ve ever coached in my 21 years. Jason fell short losing 1-0 in the semis to Point Pleasants, Chris Smith, the eventual Champion, but was able to wrestle back and gain 3rd place with an overtime win against, Payton Neely from Cameron. Jason finished the season 18-2, and only gave up 6 points all season and those were in both his losses to number 1 and 2 on the podium at states. Jason faced a lot of ups and downs and bad luck. His sophomore season he was ranked #3 in the state and had a season ending injury halfway through. His junior year he was ranked 4th in the state and two days before States he inherited influenza and was unable to make the trip. As talented as Jason is there’s still room to grow and college teams have taken notice. Several teams across the state as well as a college in Illinois have shown interest in Jason. The sky’s the limit if he so chooses to continue an athletic career in wrestling in college,” acknowledged Coach McKeever.

Paden City High School Head Wrestling Coach Mike Owens discussed their historic road trip to Huntington. Wildcat wrestlers have had an exciting season. Coach Owens explained Covid-19 restrictions didn’t allow his team to participate in the OVAC championship, but they were still able to qualify two wrestlers to the state tournament. This was one of their goals and a particular goal of his wrestlers.

The coach spoke about his two state qualifiers. “Jasup Spragg is a junior and has really found his place on this team as a leader. Jasup is the first to arrive and last to leave kind of wrestler. Jasup is the first to qualify for Paden City High School, [while] Doneven Clark is the first 4 year letterman. He is a hard nose kid who works hard every day. He is willing to learn and takes criticism well. Doneven’s will was instrumental in moving this team forward,” informed Coach Owens.

In the first round of state, Jasup drew a kid from Point Pleasant who absolutely dominated the tournament and in the end dropped his next match. Doneven also drew a hammer from Point Pleasant in round 1, and in round 2 he lost by pin in the second period. Coach Owens wrapped up the historic season this way, “I am pleased with the momentum we have going into next year, and hopefully this new success will lead to more kids coming out.”

Thanks to Coach Morris, Coach McKeever and Coach Owens for supplying me with their thoughts and sharing their experience. Our hats are off to three area wrestling programs that represented Tyler and Wetzel Counties well. I have a good feeling we will be seeing these guys again next year!