AAA wrestlers make mark

HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Austin Loew had a goal in mind when the 2016-17 wrestling season began. The Wheeling Park senior has come out of nowhere to advance to the finals of the 195-pound weight class.

Friday night inside Big Sandy Superstore Arena, Loew earned a spot in the championship match with a 6-2 decision of Spring Valley sophomore Cody Stanley at the 70th annual W.Va. Class AAA state tournament.

“It feels great because I got injured prior to OVACs last year and was unable to continue the season,” he said after moving his record to 31-13. “Since then I’ve been working hard and it all paid off tonight.”

Loew almost missed his shot at the title in the quarterfinals when he rallied from a late deficit to pin George Washington’s Gerald Hall in 5:12.

“That win gave me a lot of confidence heading into the finals,” he said.

Loew is one of four Patriots that reached the podium. Junior John Nash (160) saw his title bid fall in an 7-5 overtime loss to Washington’s Cameron Pine, who improved to a spotless 49-0.

“Before the season I would have said this was unexpected,” Wheeling Park head coach Clay Tucker said. “But from what I’ve seen out of Austin this season, I’ve changed my view and I don’t think this was unexpected. He has worked hard.”

Other Patriots’ placers are freshman Canon Welker (113) and sophomore Dylan Wood (220).

“I’m happy with the way the guys wrestled today,” Tucker said. “We only had three qualifiers last year and we have four placers this year.”

Wheeling Park is in fourth place in the team standings with 68 points.

John Marshall has three placers in sophomore Jordan Wood (120), classmate Austin Love (126) and junior Brandon Durrah (182).

Wood and Love each dropped semifinal contests, while Durrah rallied through the loser’s bracket.

Brooke’s Alex Edgell (220) also fell in the semifinals, but has earned a state place for the second straight year. He was sixth a year ago.

Official of the Year

Prior to the start of Friday night’s third session, former Wheeling Park head coach Ed “Buzzy” Evans was presented with the 2016 National Federation Officials Association for Active officials Award.

He becomes the 10th Ohio Valley official to receive the award, and the third in the last seven years.

In addition to Evans also officiating the state tournament are Shane Kildow, Ray Marling and Kenny McWilliams.