HUNTINGTON — Through the first round of the 42nd annual WSAZ High School Wrestling Invitational Friday at Mountain Health Arena, Cabell Midland led the Class AAA division with Huntington, Hurricane, Riverside and St. Albans all in the top 10.
Cabell Midland’s lead didn’t last, though. Five-time defending state champion Parkersburg South saw to that.
The Knights stormed to a surprising lead with 40 points through the first round, just ahead of South’s 38.5 points.
The Patriots figured to be a heavy favorite, yet the Knights’ rise to the top even caught their head coach by surprise.
“To tell you the truth I didn’t even know we were in first place until just now,” first-year Cabell Midland head coach Louden Goodpaster said. “I don’t really worry about the team score right now. It kind of just plays itself out.”
The tournament “playing itself out” proved to be the case as the high school bracket soon saw Cabell Midland slide into the middle of the top 10 while the Patriots climbed into the top spot comfortably ahead of power programs from Virginia, Skyline and Christiansburg in second and third place, respectively.
Cabell Midland posted another 50 points before the first day ended with the third round. The Knights had slipped to fifth place behind of the defending WSAZ large-school champion Huntington but passed the Highlanders to end the tournament’s first day in fourth place with a 90-88 advantage.
Parkersburg South, meanwhile, rose to the top spot claiming 125 points through three rounds with a good cushion between it and Virginia Class 3A Skyline, which posted 95.5 points.
Virginia Class 6A’s Christiansburg, led by former Independence head coach Cliff Warden, was third at the end of the day with 93.5.
After the opening round, Huntington found itself in a three-way tie for fifth place with Hurricane and Riverside. By the end of day one, Riverside sat in seventh place behind West Chester, Ohio’s Lakota West High 77.5-68.
Warriors head coach Mark Scites said he wanted his Riverside team to be in the top 10.
“I’ve got six wrestlers that have made it to the next round,” Scites said. “That includes Austin Chapman.”
Chapman, the top seed in the 285-pound weight class, earned a bye in the first round before winning by a pin in just 30 seconds over Clay County’s Dakotah Neal. In his final match on Friday, the Riverside senior defeated Spring Valley’s Connor McCann by major decision, 15-1.
“We know we’ve got a lot of talent on the team,” Chapman said. “Especially when we show up and wrestle how we can we’re easily a top-eight team in the state. We’ve got to get more consistency.”
Chapman added that the WSAZ Invitational serves as a good prelude for the state tournament. which doesn’t offer quite as diverse a field as this weekend’s event.
At the conclusion of Friday’s matches Lakota West found itself 10.5 points behind Huntington. St. Albans (62.5), Hurricane (56) and George Washington (56) rounded out the top 10.
Point Pleasant, the defending West Virginia Class AA state champion, received little challenge in its division as the Black Knights posted 125 points to take first in the class. Braxton County finished the day second in Class AA at 88 points.
Herbert Hoover (77), East Fairmont (69.5) and North Marion (58) posted top-five finishes. Winfield (55.5), Bridgeport (55), Independence (54.5), Oak Hill (51) and Roselle Park, New Jersey (46) rounded out the Class AA top 10.
Ravenswood had control of Class A with a 52-35.5 lead over Greenbrier West while Wahama, St. Marys, Chesapeake, Moorefield, Ironton, Buffalo, Cameron and Fairland followed.
Saturday’s final two sessions of the invitational begin with the third round of the consolation bracket in the double-elimination tournament plus the quarterfinals of the championship bracket. Session 2 will begin at 10 a.m. At 6 p.m., the third session begins to decide third- and fifth-place winners.
The championship round will begin at 8:15 Saturday night and feature the awards ceremony.