HUNTINGTON - When it comes to being a state wrestling champion, there's little question hard work pays off.
Roane County senior Josh Fisher, who will wrestle at Campbell University this fall, epitomized that fact as the Raider senior ended his career with four individual West Virginia state mat titles. His last one came on Saturday night at the 64th annual state tournament when he locked in a cradle and pinned 125-pounder Dustin Daniels of Clay County in 2:56 en route to being named the outstanding wrestler in Class AA/A.
"We went six-for-six on placing. I'm all right with that," said Fisher, who along with five teammates finished a school-best third place in the state tournament as a team.
Photo by Jeff Baughan
Calhoun County sophomore Jared Haught, shown here working a tight waist against Tanner Whyte of Cameron, capped a 53-0 season by winning the 160-pound state title. The Red Devil notched a 4-3 decision thanks to a takedown with 10 seconds left in the match.
"I'm ready to try a new level, but I'm going to miss this,'' Fisher said. "It goes by faster than what you believe. You look back and you can just picture yourself winning your first state title and now it's over."
Fisher, who went 37-2 this year and was 162-3 for his career, was joined in winning state crowns by teammates Brad Hickman - 51-0 at 140 - and 135-pounder Dylan Cottrell, who will go after title No. 4 next winter.
"I wanted the stick in the second and I about got it," Cottrell said of nearly pinning finals opponent Noah Searls of Point Pleasant. "There just wasn't enough time and I couldn't quite get the waist in there. It went exactly how I wanted."
For the most part, Raider coach Wayne Jarvis said things went about as well as planned noting, "we're extremely proud of these guys."
Thanks to titles by freshman 103-pounder Dalton George and senior heavyweight Tom Collins, fourth-year Williamstown mentor Dennie Uhl coached his first individual state champions.
"They are definitely not practice partners," Uhl quipped after Collins' title. "We had a plan and we executed our plan and it worked."
Collins said of his first crown, "it was pretty nice, probably one of the greatest feelings I've ever had."
George, who came into high school with high expectations, had to stay the course through the arduous campaign but got what he was seeking in the end.
"Being the first freshman to ever win it from Williamstown High School, that's a big deal to me. A real big deal," George said.
Of course, winning an individual state crown is the pinnacle for any wrestler.
St. Marys senior C.D. Cox finished his career as a four-time state placer, but had to wait until Saturday night to finally get what he was looking for thanks to his state title at 215.
"He beat me at the regional, but I knew I had to push the pace and I got the reversal and then rode him out," Cox said of his 3-1 overtime triumph versus Madonna's Christian Roe. "I just did my usual step out and turn in. Not very many people have held me down this year doing it and I went right into a half and got my reversal. It feels good. It took me years to do this. I've been wrestling since I was 4."
One of the more interesting state title stories belongs to Ripley junior David Hicks. A punishing running back on the gridiron, Hicks defended his 215-pound state title late Saturday night. Although he grew up a wrestler, he said he played basketball from sixth grade through his freshman season.
"I like basketball and it's a fun sport to play, but I had a little brother (Daryl) who was nagging at me and eventually it just got to the point where I missed it and wanted to wrestle."