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Nitro’s Paul Frampton takes 195-pound title at Kanawha County wrestling championships

JUSTIN ROGERS | Gazette-Mail
Nitro’s Paul Frampton has his arm raised by referee Rob Scott after winning a match in the Kanawha County championships Saturday at Riverside High School.
Paul Frampton of Nitro wrestles against E.J. Caldwell of Herbert Hoover in Saturday’s Kanawha County championships.

Anyone who doubts the power of positive thinking should have a chat with Nitro’s Paul Frampton.

From humble beginnings, Frampton has transformed himself into one of the state’s top wrestlers in his weight class. And he’s done it, basically, by putting his mind to it.

He continued his winning ways Saturday during the Kanawha County championships at Riverside, taking the title at 195 pounds. That gives the Wildcats junior a pretty good haul so far this season, adding to the titles he won at the WSAZ Invitational and the Cardinal Conference championships.

Speaking of the WSAZs, it’s a perfect opportunity to display how far Frampton has come in such a short time.

In four previous trips to the WSAZ meet at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington — three in middle school and his freshman year in high school — Frampton never won a single match (the WSAZs were canceled last year by snow).

So how does a guy go from being an afterthought in most major meets to being one of the favorites? From being off the radar state-wise to being ranked No. 3 in West Virginia Class AA-A, as Frampton is with a 32-2 record?

“I basically just had it in my mind that I was going to do good this year,’’ Frampton said during a break in Saturday’s matches at Riverside. “I only have one more year. So over the summer, every day I was going to the gym, working out at this wrestling club, called the Galaxy Wrestling Club, and just worked my butt off all summer.

“In practice, I’ve had good partners — Vinny Devaney [a Nitro teammate], he’s really good. I just kicked it up a notch mentally, physically. I just really give it my all now.’’

Frampton’s mindset was on display Saturday, when he fell behind George Washington’s Gerrard Hall 9-5 in the second period of their finals match at 195 pounds, only to pin Hall and claim the crown.

“I think a lot of wrestling is mental, too, a mental block,’’ Frampton said. “I spend a lot of time reading sports psychology and stuff like that. I don’t care if the guy is a three-time state champ, I don’t care if he’s just some freshman that’s never wrestled a day in his life. I’m just going to wrestle the same way every time. I go out there and imagine I’m going to win before I wrestle, and imagine what moves I do, and go through my head.

“So I think I just block out the other guy and focus on me wrestling. Before, I’d get nervous and say, ‘Oh my gosh, this guy beat me before.’ I would think about what not to do. Now I think about what I need to do. So I think a lot in my head, it’s just knowing the right things, knowing I’m a good wrestler, knowing I’m going to win and I just have to go out there and perform.’’

Frampton is well aware of the wrestling tradition at Nitro. In fact, Nitro has produced more state champions than any school in Kanawha County with 21. GW is second at 19 and Herbert Hoover third with 10.

More than half of Nitro’s individual crowns came from one family. Seth, Matt and Anthony Easter combined for 11 Class AAA titles from 2000-08. The most recent Wildcats championship was taken by Hunter Skeens at AAA 220 in 2015.

Frampton would like to join that crowd, and has in fact enlisted help from the Easters in his quest. Seth and Matt Easter both work with Frampton at the Galaxy Wrestling Club in Nitro, supplementing the guidance Frampton receives from Nitro coach Erik Ollom.

“They’ve been there helping me out, giving me advice,’’ Frampton said of the Easters, “and I think that’s one of the biggest components. I’ve got three state champions helping me — three All-American wrestlers at Galaxy with Mitch Casto, Seth Easter and Matt Easter, and I think that’s just really great coaching there, along with the coaching here at Nitro. That’s really made all the difference.’’

Frampton has yet to face either of the athletes ranked in front of him at 195 — Caleb Nice of Magnolia and Jake Abbott of Fairmont Senior, the football team’s quarterback and linebacker — but maintains his positive approach.

“I’m not going to make any predictions,’’ Frampton said, “but like I said, it doesn’t matter if they’re a three-time state champ, it doesn’t matter if they drop down from 220, I’m wrestling the same. For the most part, you put someone in front of me this year and I’ve beat them. So I think it’s going to be good. I’m going to see some of them at states for sure, and I think it’s going to be a good match.’’

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Riverside captured the team title during Saturday’s meet, shading defending champion Herbert Hoover by a half-point (165 to 164.5).

That makes different champs the past three years at the Kanawha County event, as George Washington put together a five-year title run from 2012-15.

Hoover produced the most weight-class champions Saturday with five, followed by Riverside with four, GW three and Nitro two (see results, Page 2C).

St. Albans, the highest-ranked team in the Kanawha Valley (fifth in AAA) didn’t participate in the meet due to season weigh-in restrictions.

The county meet precedes next weekend’s regional meets, which qualify entries into the state meet, set for Feb. 23-25 at the Big Sandy Arena.

Contact Rick Ryan at 304-348-5175 or Follow him on Twitter @RickRyanWV.

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