Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

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February 19, 2014

Golden Wave, Tornado and G-Men grapplers head to states

BRISTOL, Va. — It was yet another fine finish for Grundy.

The Golden Wave dominated a 19-team field, topping Lee by nearly 100 points (250.5 to 153.5) to win the first-ever Group 2A West Region wrestling title Tuesday at Virginia High School in Bristol.

It was was the best finish in five years for Richlands and it was an historic finish for Graham.

Six Golden Wave wrestlers claimed individual titles: Andy Webb (106 pounds), Maverick Coleman (113), Cody Puckett (120), Austin Hurley (126), Trey Smith (145) and Dylan Raines (160).

The Blue Tornado had two champions, Caleb Lankford (152) and Zeke Vance (170) and qualified four for state.

Graham had one champ, Dylan Cook (195), two in the finals and three state qualifiers.

Vance gave his fellow Richlands champ (Lankford) credit for his win after he pinned Graham’s Kyshon Lee at the 4:52 mark in the finals.

“I was just tryin’ to hang in there and hold him and wear him out in the third period,” said Vance, who successfully countered almost every move the athletic Lee made. “I have a good partner in practice (Lankford) and he does that and makes me better at (defense).”

No one was happier Tuesday than Richlands coach Frank Daugherty, whose last regional champ was Evan Simmons in 2009.

“I’m tickled to death for my kids,” Daugherty said. “Caleb Lankford and Zeke Vance have really stepped it up a notch the past few weeks. They have such a tremendous work ethic in practice, they get after it.”

Dylan Cook, whose brother Hunter was a finalist, became the first Graham regional champ since 1984 after he pinned Lebanon’s Mark Weisbarth in exactly one minute.

“It means a lot to do this,” said Cook, who also has another brother

who wrestled for the G-Men. “I hope to leave a legacy for Graham wrestling.”

Scott Richardson in 1984 was the last champ for the G-Men.

“I’m thrilled to death for Dylan,” he said. “He was our first-ever Agie Skeens champion. That’s his first ever regional championship, he’s done a fantastic job.  He’s really worked for it. He just keeps getting better every time he wrestles.

“Kyshon and Hunter, they’ve worked hard all year. They had tough matches in the finals. Then Jon Jennings did a great job getting third (at 220 pounds).  I’m proud of all of them.”

Grundy had two other finalists, Elliott Pedigo (152), Jordan McCowan (182) and qualified nine for this weekend’s state tournament in Salem. Senior Adam Hibbitts (220) placed fourth.

“I thought Andy started it off great,” Grundy coach Travis Fiser said.

“He beat a kid who qualified last year, a state placer, and  he looked really good.

“Maverick was dominant, as usual. He went out and took care of business, Austin the same way. Dylan, he came out a little bit slow at the beginning.  He picked it up and kind off took over.”

Puckett and Smith won by medical default.

Raines is one of four Grundy seniors with one final shot at a first state title. He pinned Hunter Cook in 3:03 in the finals.

“I’ve been working hard at the gym because it’s my last year,” Raines said. “I’m gonna do that this year, there’s no gettin’ it back, so I got to work hard and go try and get me one.”

He and the other wrestlers at Virginia High won’t have long to prepare for Salem.

“Its a short week,” Raines added. “We just gotta keep our nose to the grindstone and keep working.”

Marshall Barnes (138) and Chris Haywood (182) placed fourth for Richlands.

The top four in each weight class advance to an 8-man bracket at the state tourney, where everyone is guaranteed to place.

That includes Adam Hibbitts, a senior who’s never placed at state. His tournament was a gratifying one for Fiser.

“I’m very tickled for Adam Hibbitts,” Fiser added.

“I tell you what, that’s a whole article in itself, The heart he’s shown in the last four years has been tremendous.

“It’s really rewarding as a coach to  get to watch him go and achieve some goals. I was really pleased for him.”

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