PARKERSBURG — Braxton Amos built a reputation on the wrestling mat thanks to his many early successes. He repeatedly lived up to that notoriety while attending Parkersburg South High School.
During his sophomore season as a Patriot, Amos swept through the Mountain State on the way to state title No. 1 in 2018. No opponent bested him again on the way to state title No. 2 in his junior season in 2019.
Yet his Ironman, Powerade and state championship trophies didn’t quite fill the entirety of his trophy case.
The empty space was filled with his first Robert R. Dutton Award, given annually to the top prep wrestler in West Virginia, when Amos was a junior. That achievement provided him a target for what was expected to be a dynamite senior campaign. Winning the award again would crown him as the first two-time Dutton recipient.
Nothing would come easy, though. There was a catch thrown into his final prep season. As Amos played football deep into the postseason, he wasn’t immediately in wrestling shape at the beginning of the grappling season. He practiced maybe one or two days with the wrestling team.
“It was really tough to keep my head level and my nose to the grindstone and just keep working,” said Amos. “Nobody had scored on me yet in a South singlet and I hadn’t been beaten by a high school kid in a year in a half.
“I really approached this season like I did my sophomore year. I had to take it to them every single time because I couldn’t let some kid catch me. In a way, I was more worried about this year than last year.”
Despite the drawback, Amos never crumbled or gave in. Instead, he found something enjoyable from the ordeal.
“It was fun because I had to start being savvy,” Amos said. “I pulled tricks out of the bag I hadn’t in a while, at least not early in tournaments. I mean, at Ironman and Powerade, I was still beating guys pretty good. I hadn’t had to do anything other than the basics until now. There were three or four close calls where if I didn’t score with seconds left in the period or now, I was on the defensive. It was fun.”
The good times rolled all the way through to the state tournament. With his technical fall of Wheeling Park’s Charlie Tamburin in the 220-pound final, Amos finished off another undefeated season. He also went unscored upon against in-state or out-of-state opponents.
Similar to his dominant showing last season, this year’s reign again brought him headlines with regard to the Dutton Award. Amos’ coronation completed his back-to-back attempt.
“It is a real honor to be named an award winner once, let alone twice. I am very, very thankful for the opportunities everybody before me have laid out. It has just been great,” said Amos. “I like wrestling. I like having fun. I like working hard and I hate losing.”
The achievement, as well as Amos’ career, hardly surprised South wrestling coach Shaun Smith.
“When he was about to come in our program, you knew something special was going to happen,” Smith said. “Even as an eighth grader, he was at the state tournament watching potential opponents for his freshman year. That in and of itself is pretty remarkable. Most kids aren’t thinking that far ahead.”
Finishing runner-up in the Dutton Award voting for the second straight year was Oak Glen senior Peyton Hall. The four-time Class AA-A champ capped his senior campaign with a 49-2 record at 152 pounds. He finished his career as a Golden Bear with a 179-13 mark along with state titles at 138 (2019), 132 (2018) and 120 (2017).
Air Force Academy commit John Martin Best of Parkersburg High, a three-time state champ with a state runner-up finish, finished third in the voting.
Amos’ win marks the sixth time a Patriot has won the Dutton. Before Amos’ first win in 2019, South celebrated Josh Humphreys (2018), Chad Porter (2006), Jason Johnson (1998) and the inaugural Dutton Award winner Dave Miller (1985). Amos’ win marked the first time a school claimed the honor three years in a row.
Sponsored by the Parkersburg News and Sentinel, the Dutton Award is voted upon by a statewide panel.