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Five Brooke wrestlers are state bound

LOCKING UP — Brooke’s Braylon Demaria and Buckhannon-Upshur's Liam Garcia are locked up during their 120-pound championship bout at the West Virginia Class AAA Region I tournament Saturday inside the Moundsville Junior High Fieldhouse. Demaria prevailed, 14-5. -Kim North

MOUNDSVILLE — Twenty-two Northern Panhandle wrestlers punched their tickets to the 74th-annual West Virginia Class AAA state tournament by placing in the top four of their respective weight classes Saturday afternoon during Region I action inside the Junior High Fieldhouse.

Nine of those will be donning singlets from Wheeling Park, while eight will have the John Marshall logo. Five will hail from Brooke.

The state tournament will once again be held at Mountain Health Arena in Huntington. It will be held four days this year with Class AAA taking the mats on April 19 and April 20. Class A/AA will conclude the week on Wednesday and Thursday.

Wheeling Park, which finished second in the team race to fellow Ohio Valley Athletic Conference member University High, 199-190, was led by regional titlists in junior Cody Taggart (126 pounds), senior Stevie Mitchell (152), junior Hunter Nixon (182) and sophomore Erick Brothers Jr. (220).

“The regional was a lot like the regular season … a rollercoaster. We had some highs and we had some lows,” Wheeling Park head coach Brian Leggett said. “We weren’t even at full strength today. We got one guy who defaulted to fourth, so hopefully we’ll be back to full strength for the state tournament.”

John Marshall sophomore Ethan Cook (106) and Brooke senior Braydon Demaria (120) also won regional titles.

Taggart, now 12-7, was fourth in the state at 113 last year. He defeated Buckhannon-Upshur’s top-seeded Tucker Hurst, 7-1, for his crown.

Mitchell improved to 19-1 with a victory over University’s Matt Bakos. It was his third regional title. He is a three-time state placer and a returning runner-up.

Nixon, a junior who missed last season with an injury, won his championship with an 8-2 decision over Bridgeport’s J.T. Muller. Nixon is now 5-0 on the year.

Brothers Jr. won a state title at 182 last year and posted a 12-3 major decision over Buckhannon-Upshur’s Alex Bennett. He now is 19-1.

Cook pinned University’s Trip Ryan in a mere 49 seconds, while Demaria earned a 14-5 major decision over Buckhannon-Upshur’s Liam Garcia.

Other Patriots headed to Huntington are: regional runner-up Charlie Tamburin (285); third-placers Nate Shelek (132) and Quinton Velas (138); and top-seeded Adam Carman (106), who took fourth without stepping on the mat.

In addition to Cook, other Monarchs going to state are runner-up Matthew Tschappat (113) and third-place finishers Donald Carroll (120) and Carl Cochran (126). Ryan Ward (132), Sean Thomas (138), Ben McArdle (170) and Anthony Baldo (195) all took fourth.

Other Bruins making the trip southward are third-placer Xzander Eltringham (113) and Gavin Moore (152), Tyler Wise (182) and Daniel Rawson (285), who all finished fourth.

In AA, Weir High’s Jordan Brueck earned a victory and is headed to the state tournament at 285 pounds.

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