Whg. Park plays host to AAA mat regional

WHEELING — Three dozen state-ranked wrestlers will be competing when the 2017 W.Va. Class AAA, Region I Tournament gets under way Saturday at 11 a.m. inside Wheeling Park’s “Palace on the Hill.”

Eleven of those individuals come from University High in Morgantown, while Buckhannon-Upshur, John Marshall and Wheeling Park have seven each. Brooke checks in with four, while Morgantown High and Preston don’t have any.

Only one wrestler, Wheeling Park 160-pound junior John Nash, is ranked No. 1 in his respective weight class.

According to tournament organizers, there are only 25 first-round bouts. The semifinals are tentatively scheduled for 12:30 p.m., with the championship finals slated for approximately 2.

“Hosting the regionals is always great,” second-year Wheeling Park head coach Clay Tucker said.

“The kids are excited to be at home and wrestle in front of their families and friends, as am I.”

The Hawks, who finished fourth in the OVAC Ron Mauck Tournament in January, have five top seeds in Matthew Simpson (106), Jake Staud (113), Braeden Pauley (132), Owen Zeiders (145) and Nick Valachovic (182).

Simpson is ranked fourth in the Mountain State, according to wvmat.com, and was sixth in the OVAC Tournament. Staud, third at the OVACs, is ranked second, while Pauley is ranked ninth.

Zeiders is ranked fifth and was a bronze medalist at the OVACs. Valachovic was an OVAC runnerup and is ranked second in the state.

The Monarchs, who recently captured the OVAC Bill Hinegardner Class 5A Dual Meet title, have four No. 1 seeds, including returning state placers Jordan Wood (120) and Anthony Carman (138). Wood finished fourth at 106 a year ago, while Carman was fourth at 120. The other two top seeds are Austin Love (126) and Nathan Simmons (285).

Love was sixth at the OVAC Tournament. Carman finished second and Simmons fifth.

In addition to Nash, the Patriots other top seeds are Kaleb Simpkins (170) and Austin Loew (195).

Nash is a two-time OVAC champion, while Simpkins was third and Loew fifth. Simpkins is ranked third and Loew fourth in the state.

“Nash was unable to finish the season last year, so he is excited to get a chance to win a regional and state title after that opportunity was taken away from him last year,” Tucker said. “Simpkins is looking for his second straight regional title and has been getting better and better every match, but i don’t think we have seen him hit his peak performance yet. I think he is finally there, so he is really excited. Loew is finally healthy for a regional. He was injured prior to the last two. He’s a tough kid who’s been wrestling lights-out lately.”

The Bruins and Buccaneers each have one top seed.

Brooke’s Alex Edgell, an OVAC champion, is No. 1 at 220 and fourth in the state. Buckhannon-Upshur’s Jack Garcia is tops at 152. He finished second in the state last year and is ranked fourth this year.

Wheeling Park also has three second seeds in Canon Welker (113), Mason Miklas (182) and Dylan Wood (220).

John Marshall’s Ethan Gray (106), Jacob Berisford (152) and Chas McCool (170) are No. 2 seeds.

The top 4 finishers in each weight class advance to next week’s state tournament at Big Sandy Arena in Huntington from Thursday through Saturday night.