PETERSBURG - This time of year, as the season is winding down, the thoughts of local wrestlers turn to the all-important regional tournament, which ultimately determines who does and doesn't qualify for the state tournament held each year in Huntington.
By Chapin Jewell
PETERSBURG - This time of year, as the season is winding down, the thoughts of local wrestlers turn to the all-important regional tournament, which ultimately determines who does and doesn’t qualify for the state tournament held each year in Huntington.
As somewhat of a final, or almost final preparation for that important regional tournament, the Petersburg Vikings host an annual Viking Smash Tournament. This year’s tournament was held this past weekend on Friday, Jan. 31, and Saturday, Feb. 1.
Similar to Keyser’s season-opening Keyser Kiwanis Tournament which sort of kicks the year off, the Viking Smash serves to somewhat wind-down the regular season and give wrestlers a chance to see where they stand in advance of regionals. Also similar to Keyser and the Keyser Kiwanis Tournament, Petersburg has built a pretty solid reputation as good hosts for this ambitious annual undertaking.
Year in and year out, you will find Petersburg wrestlers in the thick of things in the West Virginia class AA’s region 2, with this year being no different. According to the West Virginia Wrestling Coaches Association, the Vikings currently have the fifth ranked wrestler in class AA/A in the state in the 106-pound class, junior Ethan Vanmeter, and the top-ranked ranked wrestler in class AA/A in the state in the 126-pound class, sophomore Thomas Ours.
In their history, Petersburg has claimed six state champions, including Denny Moyers (1973, 138), Mark Geary (1976, 145), Nick Lahman (1996, 189), Dan Lahman (1999, 215), and Jackson Moomau (2017, 170; 2018, 195).
This year, the Vikings welcomed a total of 12-teams to compete in the Viking Smash Tournament, including themselves, Keyser, Frankfort, East Hardy, Moorefield, Berkeley Springs, Hedgesville, Philip Barbour, Elkins, Grafton, Hampshire and an X-Team comprised of wrestlers from the other teams.
After two days of hard-fought action, it would be the Berkeley Springs Indians who would finish undefeated with a 10-0 team record, winning both the Viking Smash Tournament and the title of Potomac Valley Conference Champions. Mineral County’s Keyser and Frankfort performed admirably as well.
Keyser finished the tournament with an impressive record of 9-1, with their lone defeat being to the tournament champions, Berkeley Springs, by a close score of 42-30. Keyser’s nine wins came against Moorefield (58-24), Elkins (75-0), X-Team (75-0), Frankfort (63-12), Grafton (54-21), Petersburg (54-15), Hedgesville (54-24), East Hardy (50-24), and Hampshire (62-15).
Individually, Keyser’s Tristin Fox led the Tornado with an unblemished record of 10-0, followed by Jacob Hickey, Brendan Pattison and Aaron Lyons at 9-1, Adam Kephart at 8-1, and Dakota Ratliff and DJ Cochran with records of 8-2. In addition, EJ Guy, Stone Kesner, Logan Mason, Dakota McNeely, and Zion Powell finished with records of 7-3. Wade Johnson and Julian McKoy also contributed for the Golden Tornado.
With his undefeated record of 10-0, Tristin Fox finished in first place at the tournament, and won the PVC championship at 195. Finishing in second place in the tournament was Brendan Pattison (138), Aaron Lyons (160) and Adam Kephart (220), with Kephart also winning the PVC championship.
Finishing in third place at the tournament from Keyser was Logan Mason (126), Jakob Hickey (132), Dakota Ratliff (182) and DJ Cochran (285). Fourth place tournament finishers from Keyser include EJ Guy (113), Stone Kesner (120), Dakota McNeely (152), and Zion Powell (170).
Frankfort finished the tournament above .500 with a solid team record of 5-4. Frankfort defeated Grafton (34-24), Moorefield (34-30), Elkins (36-12), Philip Barbour (36-30), and host Petersburg (36-24). Frankfort’s losses came at the hands of Keyser (63-12), East Hardy (57-24), Hampshire (54-24) and tournament champion Berkeley Springs (48-16).
Individually, Noah Kiszka and Iryll Jones led the way for Frankfort wit unblemished records of 10-0, followed by Kris Sherman at 8-2, Dan Hyde at 7-3, and Xander Parsons at 6-4. Tristin Fink, Jacob Logsdon, and Nathan Armentrout also contributed for the Falcons.
With his undefeated record of 10-0, Noah Kiszka finished in first place at the tournament, won the PVC championship at 145, and was named the Most Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament, across all teams and weight classes. Iryll Jones finished in second place at 120 and won the PVC championship. In addition, Kris Sherman finished in third place at 138.
Also of major significance is the fact that on Saturday, against Berkeley Springs, Noah Kiszka recorded his 150th career win. Also collecting win number 150 for a career was Moorefield’s Isaac Vanmeter, who also earned the Viking Smash Tournament’s fastest pin award (five seconds). Collecting win number 100 for a career was Moorefield’s Kevin Wetzel. Coach of the Year honors in the PVC also went to Berkeley Springs’ Derek Hovermale.
As Keyser and Frankfort looked towards the upcoming regional tournament, they do so with great excitement and expectation. Keyser’s Tristin Fox, for example, is currently the number one ranked wrestler by the West Virginia Coaches Association in class AA/A in the 195-pound weight class. Frankfort’s Noah Kiszka is currently ranked fourth in those same rankings in the 145-pound weight class; Keyser’s Brendan Pattison is currently ranked seventh at 138, and Adam Kephart is currently ranked eighth at the 220-pound class.
Petersburg’s Viking Smash Tournament was a successful tune-up of sorts in anticipation of the regional wrestling tournament. As a team, Keyser had a stellar 9-1 performance, and Frankfort performed admirably with a record of 5-4. Along the way, several Mineral County wrestlers performed well individually and helped lay the groundwork for a successful performance at regionals.