Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

February 23, 2014

Cook captures state crown

Bluefield Daily Telegraph

SALEM, Va. — Grundy made history Saturday night.

So did the Graham G-Men.

Dylan Cook became Graham first state wrestling champion since Adolphus McClanahan in 1971 at the Group 2A tournament Saturday at Salem Civic Center.

Cook won a 13-4 decision over Lebanon's Mark Weisbarth in the 195-pound finals and made Graham coach Tim Woodward one of the happiest people in the arena.

"All these years all I've ever wanted is to have a state champ," Woodward said. "Dylan has done such great things this year and I'm so proud of him, he's such a great kid. I know I say that a lot, but he just really is.

"He's such a smart wrestler and he just works so hard. He does a lot of extra work and it paid off for him. I'm just proud to have coached him this year, I really am."

Cook seemed to wear down Weisbarth in the final period. He wanted a win for his coaches and the program as much as he did for himself.

"I just tried to be confident and not get nervous and try and get a title for Graham we haven't had won in so long," he said. "It means so much to me and so much for our program. Coach Woodward and coach Fritz, they never coached a state champion and I wanted to be their first."

Richlands' Caleb Lankford reached the finals at 152 pounds, where he was pinned by Grundy's Elliott Pedigo. Lankford had beaten Pedigo in Tuesday's regional final.

Three Richlands wrestlers placed eighth: Marshall Barnes, Chris Haywood and Zeke Vance.

Woodward credits his assistant coach for Graham's success this season.

"Having a state champ is just a goal I wanted to achieve and I'll tell you what, a lot of the credit goes to my assistant coach Ben Fritz," he said. "I worked with the younger wrestlers most of the year. Ben is the one who really worked with older ones this year and polished them and really made them what they are. He's a big reason we had four kids place up here this weekend.

Kyshon Lee did a fantastic job, he finished third. He lost to the eventual state champion. Hunter Cook placed fourth. He's another one of the three Cook brothers I've coached all of them and all three have gone to the state tournament. Hunter is a hard-nosed kid, he's tough and he beat some kids up here. And Jon Jennings, he never quits. When he entered school in the ninth grade he told me I'm gonna go to state and you're going to have to put my picture on the wall, and that's the first thing he said to me when he got fourth place, 'now my picture goes on the wall'."