PARKERSBURG - Bryce Gainer in chomping at the bit where his college wrestling career in concerned. And who can blame him.
Earlier this week, the senior from Parkersburg South signed his national letter of intent to continue his career at Division II West Liberty University.
Gainer closed out his resume with the Patriots by placing runner-up for the third consecutive year and helped his squad wrap up a fourth consecutive Class AAA championship.
"It tore me down finishing second again - it honestly did," Gainer said. "That's a huge drive for me right now. I can't wait to get to the next level drilling and practicing, and seeing what I can do."
Gainer, who is the son of Randy and Lynette Gainer, took interest in the sport as a first grader. His wrestling buddy at the time was David Jeffrey, who would eventually win four state titles as his teammate at Parkersburg South.
"Through the years, David and his dad have taken me everywhere - countless places so I could get better competition and help get me to this level," Gainer said.
In order to meet the minimum weight requirement to wrestle at the high school level, Gainer needed to add nearly 20 pounds between his eighth grade and freshman year.
"I did it with Ensure, eating five meals a day and working out," Gainer said.
Following two seasons at 103 pounds, Gainer moved up one weight class for his junior (112) and senior season (113). At this year's state tournament, he led Huntington's Jordan Allen in the finals but got caught in a reversal with just seconds remaining in the third period and lost 6-5.
"That's basically when I realized I can't give it up just yet," Gainer said. "I'm not done - 13 years is not enough. Four more years and I'll be good. Then eventually I'll give back to the sport and maybe start coaching a little bit."
Gainer is currently recovering from shoulder surgery and plans to return to the mat as early as August. Once he arrives on the West Liberty campus, he will major in exercise physiology and physical therapy.
"With his weight, Bryce will be a 125-pounder all of his life in college and that's great news for him and bad news for some people out there," former South wrestling coach Paul Jackson said. "He just has to continue to work hard and put in the extra time in, and he's always been like that. Good things are going to come to this young man."