NMS Grapplers End Season At Mason-Dixon
With only five wrestlers doing the damage, the New Martinsville Middle School Wrestling Team placed a strong fifth out of 19 teams at the Mason Dixon Championships Jan. 27-28 in the Feaster Center, Fairmont State University.
The Blue Eagles came home with two champions, three finalists, and five All-Conference performers to just miss out on a team trophy.
In the final championship round, eighth grader Doug Riter led off for his team in the 90 pound weight class by giving up an 11 to 0 decision to the tournaments’ eventual Outstanding Wrestler Award winner, Brandon Tenney of Buckhannon Upshur. Riter finished as the tournament runner-up.
Says Coach John Holliday, “I can count on one hand the number of finalists we have had over the years in this tournament. To have three in one year is quite an accomplishment. There are a lot of seasons that Doug could have come in here and won it all. He gave one of the best middle school wrestlers in the state all he could handle in the finals.”
In order to reach the finals, Riter had to survive a scare in the semi-finals, finally eeking out a one-point overtime decision to have a chance at the championship.
Next up, at 135 pounds, was eighth grade captain and top seed Paden McConaughey.
After also surviving a semi-final scare, he went into the finals against Isaiah Kinney of Mountaineer Monongalia, the only athlete to defeat Paden this season. The final was a dominating 9 to 0 major decision in the Eagle’s favor for the championship.
“I think Paden learned that you can’t take anyone for granted in this tournament. Almost any other wrestler would have lost that semi-final match in the situation he was in, but Paden never stops until the match is over. His North Marion opponent in the semi’s had him beaten until a few seconds were left, but he made one mistake, and Paden took advantage of that and pinned him.”
Second seed Caleb Nice walked onto the finals mat with something to say. His match took on epic proportions, moving scoreless through three regular periods and then went through three more overtime periods, with Caleb scoring the winning point with only seconds left.
Continued Holliday, “If Caleb didn’t score there he would have lost the match on the ride-out rule.
“He never stopped wrestling and basically wore his opponent out. Both wrestlers used all of their injury time in a physical, low-scoring match. His was a satisfying win.”
Adding to the team score was eighth grader Mikey Dantrassy with a third place showing at 171 pounds. Holliday noted, “It is rare to have a first-year wrestler finish this high here. Mikey has come a long way and his future can be as bright as he chooses in this sport.”
The other All-Conference wrestler was seventh grader Clay Adams, who came through with sixth place at 116 pounds. “Clay lost a couple of very close matches in the consolation rounds that could have gone his way,” noted Holliday. “I always tell the team that it is the close matches you will remember and those losses will break your heart. Clay had a fine tournament and I want him to build on this for next year.”
The regular season is over for the Blue Eagles, but some will now move into the off-season tournament schedule by competing in open tournaments.
“We lose some good kids from this year’s team,” continued Holliday. “Paden, Doug, and Mikey are eighth graders and will move on to the high school team next year. So will second year wrestlers J.T. Stillwagoner and Joseph Layman, along with first year Brennan Petin. I guess we will just start re-building again.”
Added first-year Assistant Coach Mike Pierce, “I’m very proud of our team performing so well at the championships.
“There were two days of exciting wrestling and it was great to have been so competitive. It might be a few years before we have a chance to finish that high again as a team, but we look forward to the challenge.”