HUNTINGTON — If you watch enough of Nitro’s Paul Frampton on the wrestling mat, one thing that should jump out is just how intense the Wildcats’ senior can be.
From his pre-match routine of stalking — almost stomping — around the mat and high-fives with the Nitro coaching staff that would probably burst some blood vessels in most people, to his all-out and in-your-face aggressive approach once the whistle blows, “timid” is not a word anyone would use to describe Frampton.
That, of course, was on display Saturday night when Frampton scored a major decision win against Independence’s Adam Daniels to claim the Class AA-A 182-pound state championship.
“I just wanted to turn it on and give everything I had,” said Frampton. “Before the match, I was thinking about my last six minutes as a Nitro High School wrestler. I’m going to give it all I got these last six minutes. All those countless hours in the gym, in the work room working when no one else was, in the dark, drilling in my head — all of those led down to six minutes, and it paid off.”
Frampton’s title is the first for the Nitro program as a Class AA-A participant and makes him the first Wildcat to win a state title since Hunter Skeens won the Class AAA 220 state championship in 2015. He is the 13th Nitro wrestler to ever win a state championship and his title brings the Wildcats’ program total to 22 overall.
St. Albans’ Brandon Holt and Thomas Hartley are training partners at practice, and now the pair of Red Dragons are both state champions.For Holt, his win Saturday in the Class AAA 113 pound title match against Huntington’s London Bowen gave him a second state title to go with the one he won last season at 106.
“I’ve had the toughest weight classes, or one of the toughest,” the Red Dragons’ junior said. “You look at [Parkersburg South’s] Tucker Windland — he was fifth in the weight class [last season], now he’s No. 2 [at 120]. You have London — he was No. 2 in my weight class, he was No. 4 last year. Look at Garret [Donahue from Parkersburg, Hartley’s opponent Saturday], he got third last year, second this year. It shows that I’m progressing and breaking myself from the competition in West Virginia at least.”
Holt, the 2018 Kanawha Valley Wrestler of the Year, took Hartley under his wing this season and it paid off with the AAA 106 state title staying in St. Albans for another season.
“It’s not that I didn’t think he could [win a state title], it just never really crossed my mind,” Holt said of his freshman teammate Hartley. “I’m so proud of that kid. He’s a heck of a worker. He’s batted adversity through the season, and sometimes he made me mad by not making weight, but I forgive the kid. It all worked out. I’m happy for him.
“Thomas is a good wrestler, and it shows the work he put it. Whenever he didn’t make weight, it wasn’t like he didn’t work hard. Even when he didn’t do the things this season that he should have done, he still worked hard and he deserves it. At the end of the day it’s who wanted it more and today Thomas wanted it more.”
Junior Jamie Ward’s win in the Class AA-A 145-pound state championship match got Winfield back to the top of the podium at the state tournament for the first time in a few years.Bryce Humphreys won the last of his three state championships for the Generals in 2015, the same season he was named the Class AAA Most Outstanding Wrestler award.
Parkersburg South wasn’t the only team making history this year at the state tournament. Independence cruised to its fifth-consecutive team title in Class AA [the Patriots had won three straight prior to the split for team titles between AA and Class A began last season].That puts Indy in some elite company. Prior to Saturday, Oak Glen’s run of team titles from 1997 through 2009 was the only time in state history a team had won at least five titles in a row. Parkersburg South, now the four-time defending AAA state champion, can join that group with another win next season.