CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Prep wrestling in the area may be down a bit these days, but it won't stop seven schools from determining Kanawha County supremacy today.The Kanawha County Championships will be held at Nitro High School starting at 11 a.m. with a brief ceremony recognizing the seniors in the area.Every school that fields a wrestling squad in the county will be there with the exception of Capital, which has not competed in the event in its three-year history.The meet started at George Washington, was at Herbert Hoover last year and will be held at Nitro this year with the idea that each of the seven competing schools will get a chance to host the event going in alphabetical order.
While the meet will hold plenty of importance based on local bragging rights alone, there is no denying it won't have much impact based on statewide rankings.None of the seven teams are in wvmat.com's top 10 ratings, and only GW's Jake Smith (Class AAA, 160 pounds) and Herbert Hoover's Richard Woods (AA-A, 285) are ranked atop any weight class.Still, GW coach Richard Harper said the event's benefits for the area are what really matter today.
"It's a great tournament," Harper said. "It's good for everybody in this area to try to build wrestling programs up this way. That was our main reason for doing it. And also it recognizes the seniors, so it's a good night for guys like Jake Smith. They get to walk out with their parents and get recognized for all the hard work they've put in over their careers."The Huskies and Patriots seem to be the favorites coming into today as Hoover has four individual wrestlers ranked in their respective weight classes in Class AA-A and GW has seven listed in the Class AAA lists.But Harper said this tournament is more about trying to get healthy and getting prepared for the approaching postseason."It's good for guys to get some extra matches and a little extra work in," Harper said. "But it's not like going to a big, grueling tournament and getting beat up all day. It's more of a relaxed tournament where we get to introduce the seniors and have a good time."The kids know that being a county champion is OK, but the big picture is the state tournament. [A county title] is nice to have on a resume, but at the same time our goal for the whole season is to advance in the postseason."Other than the Patriots, Huskies, and the host Wildcats, St. Albans, Riverside, South Charleston and Sissonville will also compete.Reach Ryan Pritt at 304-348-7948, firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him at twitter.com/RPritt.