The New Martinsville School Wrestling Team walked away from the Mason Dixon Championships with a solid fifth place finish out of 21 schools after Saturday's tournament at Lewis County High School.
Despite having the most champions, the Blue Eagles couldn't keep up with the larger schools on the scoreboard. The championship title was won by Buckhannon Upshur with 181 points, followed by Robert Bland (176.5), Mountaineer Middle (175), Washington Irving (152), and then NMS with 143.
The rest of the top 10 were Bridgeport (122), East Fairmont (118), North Marion (114.5), Lumberport (96.5), and Mountaineer Harrison (96.5).
Winning championships for NMS were: Riley Nice (102 pounds); Caleb Nice (155 pounds); and John Albertson (190 pounds). In addition, Caleb Nice was voted Co-Outstanding Wrestler for the tournament, along with Austin Hull of Robert Bland.
Also placing and being designated All-Conference was Jack Booth (third place at 95 pounds); Kyler Cecil (fifth place at 84 pounds); Kaleb Simpkins (fifth place at 110 pounds); and Joel Hatfield (sixth place 171 pounds).
Said Coach John Holliday, "We had two goals: one was to wrestle with intensity and the other was to place to our seed level. I don't think we accomplished either of those things as a team.
"Normally, fifth place in this tournament would be a great accomplishment, but this time we could have done better. Too many times we let our opponents set the pace and waited for things to happen. We were fighting for wins in matches where we should have been getting bonus points and we lost some matches due to a lack of effort.
"The top teams in this competition feed some of the largest high schools in the state, but there was no reason we couldn't have been right there with them," Holliday continued. "We know what the competition level is at this tournament. That is why we are in it!"
The regular season is over for the year, but some wrestlers will be participating in out-of-season competitions and in one or more of the state meets that are around.
There is no true state competition for middle school in West Virginia, but that deficit is partially filled by several "open" tournaments that are very competitive. One of the largest is in Parkersburg on March 2 and 3 at Parkersburg High School.