By GARY FAUBER
Bluefield Daily Telegraph
Bluefield senior Brandon Eldridge became the first state champion wrestler for the Beavers since the program was begun in 2009.
Eldridge defeated Marquis Frazier of Greenbrier West 7-3 to earn the title in the 160-pound weight class on Saturday at the West Virginia High School Wrestling Tournament.
Eldridge, who will wrestle collegiately at St. Andrews in Laurinburg, N.C., was the first Bluefield grappler to wrestle in a state championship match.
“It’s unreal, for our program to progress as it has in five years,” Bluefield second-year wrestling coach Ryan Rooney said. “He represented the school the way we want, as a proud, hard-working individual.”
Eldridge finished the season with a 48-2 record.
“First state champion, first state finalist, first time with two people in the (semifinals), first time with three people placing,” said Eldridge, who placed fourth last season. “Good feeling.”
Fellow senior Julius Thomas was injured in his first match on Saturday and didn’t compete in a second match, finishing in sixth place at 285 pounds.
Shawn Pennington also placed sixth in the 195-pound weight class. He lost two matches on Saturday to Jaron Summers of Fairmont Senior 4-0 and fell to Berkeley Springs’ Kyle Shambaugh 5-2.
The 66th annual wrestling tournament was the most successful in some time for southern West Virginia. Six wrestlers won state championships — the area had been without a champ since 2008 — and Greenbrier West won its first-ever team championship, the area’s first since Independence in 1996.
Johnny Foran (Shady Spring), Dustin Yoakum (Greenbrier West), Chris Clark (Independence), Malik Boatwright (Greenbrier West) and Tyler Parker (Greenbrier West) joined Eldridge as individual champions.