Prep wrestling rolls out mats Saturday at Rick Link Invite

The 2021-22 high school wrestling season rolls out the mats in earnest Saturday with the Rick Link Invitational inside Union Local High School.

Twenty teams from the tri-state area will converge on Morristown.

In addition to the host Jets, schools represented are Barnesville, Beallsville, Bellaire, Bridgeport, Buckeye Local, Coshocton, Edison, Hampfield Area (Pa.), Hundred, Linsly, Meadowbrook, North Allegheny (Pa.), Paden City, River, Shenandoah, Steubenville, Weirton Madonna, West Muskingum and Wirt County.

Action begins at 9 a.m.

Also taking place Saturday is the inaugural Rider Duals inside Tolbert Gymnasium.

Martins Ferry will meet East Liverpool and Wheeling Park will tangle with Southern Local in the first round, beginning at 10 a.m.

Round two will have the Purple Riders facing Southern Local while the Patriots meet the Potters. Martins Ferry and Wheeling Park meet in the third round, as does East Liverpool and Southern Local.

On Deck

The annual Doan Ford Barnesville Invitational is set for Friday, Dec. 17 and Saturday, Dec. 18 inside Barnesville High School.

This is a ‘true’ double-elimination format, with all wrestlers being guaranteed at least two bouts.

Teams entered include Barnesville, Bellaire, Cambridge, Cameron, Claymont, East Liverpool, Hawkin, Hurricane, WVa., Indian Creek, Indian Valley, John Marshall, Lima Central Catholic, London, Mountainview, Va., Parkersburg South, Obama Academy, River Valley, Shenandoah, Strongsville, Teays Valley, Troy Christian, Washington Courthouse, Westfall and Williamsburg.

Trophies will be presented to the first- and second-place teams. A plaque will be presented to the Most Outstanding Wrestler and the top 6 wrestlers in each weight class. An award will also be given to the wrestler with the Most Pins in the least amount of time in the championship bracket. Doan Ford will sponsor the trophies and plaques.

The sessions will be as follows with approximate times for each round:

Session I

Friday, Dec. 17

Weigh-ins: 2:30 p.m.; First Round of 32, 4:30, (if needed); Second Round Championship, 5; First Round Consolation (if needed); Second Round Consolation, 6:30

Session II

Saturday, Dec. 18

Weigh-ins: 7:30-8:15 a.m.; Quarterfinals, 9; Third Round Consolations, 11; Semifinals, 12:30 p.m.; Fourth Round Consolation, (after 132 lb. semifinal); Consolation Semifinals, 2:30

Session III

Finals: (1st through 6th place matches), 5-7 p.m.

In The Hole

The Americas Best Value Inn Tournament will be held at St. Clairsville on Tuesday, Dec. 29, starting at 9 a.m.

The Wheeling Park Duals will also be held on Tuesday, Dec. 29, along with Wednesday, Dec. 30 inside WesBanco Arena in downtown Wheeling.

Hilltoppers Up to

No. 4 in NWCA Top 25

West Liberty University has moved up to No. 4 as the National Wrestling Coaches Association (NWCA) has released its first set of NCAA Division II rankings for the 2021-22 regular season.

In addition to the Top 5 national team ranking for Coach Danny Irwin’s defending Mountain East Conference and NCAA Division II Super Region One champions, six Hilltoppers are ranked among the Top 10 nationally at their respective weights, with two of them – returning national champions Cole Laya (125) and Tyler Warner (133) – ranked No. 1 in the nation.

Joining that dynamic duo in the national Top 10 are another former national champion in senior Connor Craig, ranked No. 2 at 184 pounds; redshirt freshman Ty McGeary, No. 7 at 174 pounds; three-time NCAA qualifier Logan Kemp, No. 10 at 197 pounds; and sophomore Francesco Borsellino, the nation’s No. 9-ranked 285-pounder.

There’s a pretty concentrated logjam at the top of the team rankings. Central Oklahoma, ranked No. 4 in the preseason, edged past defending national champion St. Cloud State (Minn.) for the No. 1 spot by a single point. Central Oklahoma joins WLU as the only programs with two No. 1-ranked wrestlers in defending national champion Heath Gray (184) and 2021 national runner-up Dalton Abney (197).

Nebraska-Kearney, the 2021 NCAA Division II runner-up to St. Cloud State, edged out the Black and Gold for the No. 3 spot with Lindenwood (Mo.) rounding out the top five.

The Hilltoppers weren’t the only Mountain East Conference squad drawing national attention from the coaches. Fairmont State is tied for No. 22 with Belmont Abbey (N.C.) and Lake Erie (Ohio) while Glenville State and Davis & Elkins were among other teams also receiving votes.

The Hilltoppers are headed to South Carolina this weekend to compete in Saturday’s prestigious Carolina Clash Duals on the campus of Lander (S.C.) University.

Tariq Wilson, N.C. State

With the NCAA providing an extra year of eligibility for all winter sports in 2021, four members of the team took advantage of the ruling and returned to the Wolfpack as Super Seniors for the 2021-22 season. One of those is Steubenville Big Red product Tariq Wilson.

In October 2020, the NCAA announced that all winter sports athletes in the 2020-21 academic year would be granted an additional year of eligibility. The seniors for this past season had the option to return for another season.

Wilson earned his undergrad degree as Business Administration/Communications double major in May 2021. He is currently enrolled in N.C. State’s Technical Communication grad program.

Thomas Bullard, Hayden Hidlay and Nick Reenan will also be returning to the lineup for one final season. The four were all starters and NCAA qualifiers in 2021. They made up part of the No. 1 recruiting class back in 2016.

Wilson brings back a pair of third-place NCAA finishes in 2018 at 133 pounds and this past March at 141 pounds. He is a three-time All-American and won his first ACC Championship in 2021. Wilson announced he will be competing at his third different collegiate weight, finishing up his career at 149 pounds.

Peyton Hall, WVU

After an impressive performance last week, sophomore Peyton Hall was been named the WVU Student-Athlete of the Week, presented by University Apartments.

Hall tallied his ninth consecutive win of the season on Sunday at Ohio. At 165 pounds, Hall pinned redshirt sophomore Sean O’Dwyer in 2:05 of the first period to put the Mountaineers on the board midway through the dual against the Bobcats.

The Oak Glen grad continued on the attack by hooking the arms, turning him and driving his shoulders to the mat for the fall for his second pin of the campaign.

Earlier this season, Hall knocked off the aforementioned nationally ranked Bullard, 6-3. Hall and Bullard went scoreless through the first period, with neither gaining a second of riding time. Then with 30 seconds left in the second, Bullard made an escape for a 1-0 advantage heading into the third.

“Sophomore Peyton (Hall) looked good,” coach Tim Flynn was quoted as saying. “I still think he could be more aggressive but wrestled a real solid kid and an older guy (graduate student Bullard) with a lot of experience, so I thought he did a pretty good job.”

Caleb Rea, WVU

The Weir alum was injured for most of last season.

Anthony Carman, WVU

A John Marshall graduate, the 184-pounder is 2-2 on the season.


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