HUNTINGTON — Six Buckhannon-Upshur High School juniors will carry prior state tournament experience with them onto the mats at the 2013 WVSSAC Wrestling Championships and one B-U freshman will make his state debut this weekend.
B-U juniors Seth Cutright, Matt Fair, Dakota Linger, Daniel Nolte will make their third straight appearance at the state’s elite meet and B-U juniors Tyler Demastes and Ethan Hull will make their second straight trip to the meet, running through Saturday evening at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.
“It seems like the guys are pretty upbeat, and they have been there before,” B-U head coach J.P. Tenney remarked prior to opening-round action Thursday. “We worked really hard Monday and had a decent practice on Tuesday. [Wednesday], we mostly just worked on technique.
“We worked on a couple things that we knew would be big in this tournament — things like getting out from the bottom position, being in good position to attack from the neutral position and being able to counter-attack.”
Linger at 126 pounds and Nolte at 220 pounds enter the state tournament following Class AAA Region II championship performances last Saturday, while Cutright — Region II runner-up at 152 — boasts a 2012 state runner-up finish among his credentials. All three wrestlers have won more than 30 matches this season and are ranked among the top three competitors in the state in their respective weight classes, according to the most recent WVMat.com poll.
Linger (36-5) sits atop the 126-pound rankings, Cutright (35-6) is ranked second behind only Region II 152-pound champion Cody Spinks of Musselman and Nolte (32-5) is ranked third at 220 behind Region I champion Cullen Ebbert of John Marshall and Region I runner-up Tyler Riddle of Parkersburg.
B-U freshman Brandon Tenney has also won more than 30 matches this season, carrying a 33-6 record, a Region II runner-up finish at 106 pounds and a No. 7 state ranking into the state tournament this weekend.
According to the B-U coach, Brandon Tenney can draw from experience competing at the same site against top middle school competition from around the state when he makes his first state tournament appearance this weekend.
“At the WSAZ Tournament, which Brandon has been to in previous years with the [B-U] Middle School team, he’s been in the same arena,” J.P. Tenney said of his son. “The middle school portion of the tournament is generally acknowledged as the toughest in the state and he wrestled in the finals there all three years, so he knows the drill. But, he is still a freshman.”
Demastes, a third-place regional finisher at 120 pounds, forms the fifth and final member of the Bucs’ 30-win club for the season, sporting a 31-17 ledger. Hull, a regional runner-up at 113 pounds, owns a 25-18 record and Fair, a fourth-place finisher at 132, has gone 29-14 this year.
Each wrestler was scheduled to compete in just one match Thursday evening during the opening session of the three-day tournament, and in order to stay out of the consolation bracket Friday, Tenney said his athletes cannot afford to overlook any early opponents.
“Our main focus is what each individual does well and needs to do well to have continued success,” Tenney said. “We do look at some matchups to see specific openings we can try to take advantage of, but at this tournament you can’t afford to look too far ahead. The first night is a war, because you only have one match [per wrestler] and everyone is going after it.”
Friday’s opening session will begin at 11:30 a.m. and last approximately six hours, with action scheduled to resume at Friday’s evening session, set for 7:30 p.m.
Saturday’s morning session, slated for 10:45 a.m., will feature the semifinal and final rounds of the consolation brackets. Championship matches will be decided during the final session, set to begin at 6 p.m. Saturday.