2016-08-17 / Sports

King of the mat enters Athletic Hall of the Fame

by Jamie Harris

Tory Bennett named to the 2016 Hall of Fame Tory Bennett named to the 2016 Hall of Fame The Berkeley Springs High School wrestling program is known state wide and in the fourstate area as one of the most decorated programs in school history. Thirty four state wrestling champions have been crowned for the Indians which rank them ninth all-time in the state of West Virginia.

From the first ever state wrestling champion Don Healy, Hall of Fame member in 2013/14 in 1962 and 1963 to Matt Parkinson the last state wrestling champion crowned in 2013 none have been as dominant as Tory Bennett.

Bennett is a name synonymous with the Tribe wrestling program as he was a three time state wrestling champion in three different weight classes. For four years Bennett established himself as the most dominant wrestler in the state of West Virginia and is the state’s career wins leader with a record of 217-8.

Bennett started his dominance by finishing third in the 2009 WV Class A/AA State Wrestling Championships. That season Bennett finished with a 54-4 record at the 160 lb. weight class. At the state tournament Bennett opened the first round with an 8-2 decision over Andy Taylor of St. Mary’s. In the championship quarter finals Bennett defeated Larry Dean of Oak Hill by a 9-6 decision. In the championship semi-finals Bennett was pinned by Max Nogay of Madonna. Nogay would go on to win the 160 lb. state title. Dropping to the consolation semifinals Bennett would avenge his earlier loss by pinning Brock McClung of Point Pleasant at the 3:45 mark. In the consolation finals for third and fourth place Bennett was able to defeat Jeff Clifton of Independence by a 6-5 decision.

In the spring of 2009 Bennett competed in the NHSCA Nationals and captured the national championship and earned All American honors at the 171 lb. weight class.

When Bennett’s sophomore wrestling season rolled around there was only one mission for the grappler to accomplish and that was the WV state wrestling crown. Bennett rolled into Huntington with an impressive 45-3 record.

In the first round Bennett pinned Brandon Blaylock of Wyoming East at the 3:28 mark. In the championship quarter-finals Bennett won by a major decision 9-1 over Bobby Richmond of Bishop Donahue. Bennett then took a 2-1 decision over Mark Board of Williamstown in the state championship semi-finals. In the state finals Bennett met up with Jared Haught of Calhoun County. At the 5:58 mark Bennett was able to pin Haught and capture his first state wrestling title.

This was also a special night for Darrell Bennett the head wrestling coach at that time for the Indians. Not only did his son capture the title, but two other Indian wrestlers, Ryan Diehl-103 and Damen Capper-145, captured state titles. A fourth Indian wrestler, Hobert Delph-285, was in the state finals, but he lost a 7-4 decision. With the three state wrestling champions, a state runner-up and several other Tribe wrestlers placing the Indians finished in third place in the state team standings.

Bennett spent the spring and summer of 2010 honing his wrestling skills with camps and the toughest tournaments that his father could find for him. At the NHSCA Sophomore Nationals he finished in fifth place and earned his second All-American honors. That winter Bennett moved up a weight class to the 171 lb. division and seek his second straight state title.

Entering the 2011 WV State Wrestling Championships with a 47-0 record Bennett was the man to beat and he wasted no time in showing his dominance. In the opening round Bennett pinned Brandon Smith of Greenbrier West at the 2:28 mark. In the championship quarter-finals Bennett pinned Jesse Ramsey of Clay County at 1:48. Bennett then recorded his third straight pin dropping Trey Fitzwater of Liberty at the 1:35 mark. Bennett captured his second straight state title with a dominating 14-7 decision over Donovan Powell of Point Pleasant and finished the season with a perfect 51-0 record.

Bennett joined teammates Ryan Diehl (112) and Damen Capper (152, and BSHS Athletic Hall of Fame member Class of 2015) with back -toback state titles. Capper’s title was his third straight. Heavyweight Hobert Delph made the state finals for the second straight year, but was once again a state runner up. As a team the Indians finished in second place in the state team standings and gave head coach Bennett his highest team finish in the state tournament.

Bennett entered his senior season eyeing his third straight state wrestling title this time at the 182 lb. weight class and a chance to make history. Entering the Winner’s Choice tournament in Fairmont on January 13 and 14, 2012 Bennett was riding an impressive

107 match unbeaten streak and put that streak to challenge against a familiar opponent Haught of Parkersburg. Bennett had pinned Haught in 2010 to capture the 160 lb. state wrestling title. Haught had wrestled for Calhoun County then, but since transferred to Parkersburg to wrestle for the Big Red. In a match for the ages Haught dealt Bennett his only loss in 2012 with a 3-2 win in the sudden death overtime to take the Winner’s Choice title. However that loss seemed to ignite an even bigger fire under Bennett as he eventually headed to Huntington in search of his third straight state wrestling championship.

However before states Bennett made West Virginia state wrestling history as he recorded his 207 career win at the Petersburg Viking Smash. Bennett surpassed Danny Lord of Hedgesville (201 career wins from 2000-2003) as the all-time state leader in wins.

Heading into his final state wrestling tournament Bennett was 59-1 and sitting on a career mark of 213-8. In the first round Bennett crushed Stratton Shriver of Clay Batelle by a tech fall 19-3. In the championship quarterfinals Bennett pinned Jesse Ramsey of Clay County at the 4:53 mark. In the semi-finals he pinned Antoine Brown of Independence at the 1:30 mark. In the state finals he picked up his third straight state title and 217th career win with a dominating performance in a 15-4 major decision win over Trey Fitzwater of Liberty.

The summer of 2012 Bennett earned his third All- American honors with a fourth place finish at the prestigious Flo Nationals.

Bennett’s 217-8 career mark is still the record to beat in the state and his eight losses were to a state champion, a national prep champion, state runnerups and national prep runnerups. Bennett was also a four time Class A/AA Region II and Potomac Valley Conference Champion along with other various individual tournament championships. The consistency of competition is what drove Bennett to be the best one of the best wrestler’s in West Virginia state history.

Bennett left a mark on Berkeley Springs and the state of West Virginia wrestling history. His three state titles and career wins sets the bar for any youth wrestler coming through the Berkeley Springs youth programs. Can those marks be accomplished, well it can be if that kid puts in the work and finds the best competition to compete against year round in the future. It’s also one of the reasons that Berkeley Springs High School’s Athletic Hall of Fame is inducting Tory Bennett into the Class of 2016 Hall of Fame.

The Class of 2016 will be introduced to the community on September 16 at the home football game against the Frankfort Falcons. Then on September 17, 6 p.m. the Hall of Fame class will officially be inducted at the Berkeley Springs High School auditorium.

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