Three grapplers place at Winner's Choice
The Berkeley Springs High School Wrestling Team placed three wrestlers, and finished 15th, at 27-team Winner's Choice Tournament this past weekend in Fairmont.
Ripley captured the team title with 227 points. Point Pleasant was second with 192.5, while Parkersburg, Washington and Meyersdale, Pa. rounded out the top five.
Berkeley Springs senior Tory Bennett, who hadn't lost a match since his sophomore season, suffered his first loss in the 182 pound championship match against Jared Haught from Parkersburg.
Bennett, 37-1, entered the match as the top rated 182 pound wrestler in Class AA, while Haught, 24-0, was the top rated atop the Class AAA 182 poll. Adding to the drama was the fact that both were defending state champions, and both were undefeated over the past two seasons. Quite often match-ups like this do not live up to the billing, but this one certainly did.
The two warriors ended the six-minutes of regulation knotted at 1-1 and then wrestled three overtime periods with each scoring escapes, as the match remained tied, 2-2, and headed to a 30 second sudden death overtime period. Haught had his choice of positions, selected down, and scored an escape to win the marathon, 3-2, in sudden death.
Unfortunately, the competitive match didn't end without controversy.
With Bennett on top, and leading 2-1 in the third overtime period, a flurry occurred on the edge of the mat that would eventually lead to Haught being awarded an escape to tie the match at 2-2. No point was originally awarded when the wrestlers went out of bounds with eight seconds remaining, but after a series of long discussions between the referee, mat judge and Parkersburg's coach, the escape was awarded and the match went to sudden death.
"We knew it was going to be a battle," said Berkeley Springs coach Darrell Bennett. “It was a good match, between two good wrestlers. It's just too bad it had to end that way."
Matt Parkinson, 220, finished third, while Kyle Shambaugh, 195, finished seventh.
Parkinson won his opening round match, but lost in the round of 16 to Evan Hamilton from Morgantown, 4-3, making his road to third very difficult. But, the talented junior pulled it off with five consecutive wins.
Parkinson began his comeback with a pin of Nitro's Hunter Skeen. He then scored a 5-1 decision over Ashby Heath from Washington and a 3-0 decision over Vincent Delligatti from Fairmont Senior, setting up with a rematch with Hamilton in the consolation semifinals. Again it was a close match, but this time Parkinson prevailed 3-2 and then downed Jake Bennett from Hyndman, Pa., 6-3, in the consolation final.
Parkinson who improved to 29-4 got some praise from his coach for the way he battled back.
"Matt has now fought back through the brackets twice this year and that shows a lot of determination (Parkinson also placed third at James Wood)," Bennett said. “It is not an easy thing to do."
Shambaugh, 28-12, lost his first match to Andrew Lenhart from Meyersdale, then won consecutive matches over University's Anthony Friscon and Jacob Starcher from Point Pleasant to make the medal round. Shambaugh fell to Jaron Summers from Fairmont Senior, 4-0, and then defeated Ripley's Greg Medina, 3-2, for seventh place.
"He bounced back pretty well after last week," said Bennett. “I think the entire team wrestled pretty good, but there is always some room for improvement."
Billy Wilson (120), Josh Capps (132) and CJ Gosey (285) went 2-2, while CJ Capps (113) and Michael Via (138) were 1-2.
Berkeley Springs will travel to Loudoun Valley High School on Friday, January 20, for the two-day Loudoun County Duals Tournament.