Cavalier Grapplers Cap Season with Runner-Up Performance

HUNTINGTON (WVDN) – The high school wrestling season can be a grind. Making weight, injuries, and illnesses are annual foes.

Then you must consider the likes of Herbert Hoover, Independence, and Point Pleasant to contend with. The competition is fierce. Just as Greenbrier West must contend with these perennial powers, the Cavaliers are a team to be reckoned with. When wrestlers make their annual pilgrimage to Huntington for the West Virginia State High School Wrestling Tournament, you can find a trail blazed from Charmco to the Mountain Health Arena.

Greenbrier West emerged from the Region III Tournament on Feb. 19 like they never had before: 13 Cavaliers were eligible to qualify for the state tournament. All 13 met the challenge. With only 14 weight classes needed to field a full team, Greenbrier West stood a good chance to really make some noise in Huntington. On top of the volume of wrestlers West would send to states, six of the 13 were ranked in the top eight of their respective weight classes by the West Virginia Wrestling Coaches Association. Quality and quantity combined.

In the 106 lb. weight class, freshman Sheldon McKenzie entered the tourney as the Region III runner-up and was ranked number seven in the coach’s poll. McKenzie swiftly dispatched Levi Hobert of Roane County with a pin 0:37 into the match. JoJo High of Sissonville dropped McKenzie to the consolation bracket with a win by fall at the 4:32 mark. McKenzie defeated Caden Delwarte of Clay County with a pin at 2:18 before dropping out of the tourney with a loss to Gavin Boland of Elkins High.

Tucker Lilly was the 113 lb. entry. Lilly roared through his opening match with a major decision over Caden Vaughan of Frankfort and followed it up with a pin of Clay County’s Bratton Samples. In the championship semifinal, top-ranked Levi Carpenter of East Fairmont caught Lilly with an explosive double leg takedown that caught the sophomore off-balance, ending Lilly’s night by fall. Lilly pinned Oak Glen’s Hayden Lamb to place him in the third-place match. Williamstown’s Ashton Wasmer pinned Lilly at the 1:45 mark in the placement match. Lilly’s fourth place finish was his first in state tournament action.

Joevan Robinson was a Region III fourth place finisher at 120 lbs., qualifying him for his first state tourney experience. Robinson was eliminated in the first round by Point Pleasant’s Conner Blessing. Blessing would go on to win three decisions and the 120 lb. championship, a tough draw for Robinson out of the gate.

At 126 lbs., Clayton Robinson may have been the surprise of the tournament for Greenbrier West. Robinson defeated Anthony Currence of Braxton County 6-2 before losing by fall to Gunner Andrick of Point Pleasant. Once in the consolation bracket, Robinson scored a 2-1 win over Lucas Zombotti of Magnolia, won by injury default over Sam Richards of Roane County, and lost to Calhoun’s Jett Sampson, placing him in the fifth-place match. Robinson was pinned by Cameron’s Ashton Hoge to finish sixth for his first podium finish.

Moses Gray capped off a great season with a sixth-place finish at 132 lbs. Gray opened his tournament with an 18-5 major decision over Delbert Van Tassell of Cameron. Gray lost his second match to Doddridge County’s Riley Curran. Curran would go on to finish runner-up in the tourney. Gray entered the consolation bracket with a major decision over Herbert Hoover’s Joseph White and a pin of Point Pleasant’s Ciah Nutter. Gray dropped a 3-0 heartbreaker to Thomas Ours of Petersburg then was pinned by Hunter Spitznogle of Fairmont Sr. to slot himself at sixth.

Senior Brad Blevins was the Region III champion at 138 lbs. Blevins defeated Kase Stewart of Wahama 6-1 but lost by fall to Cameron’s Payton Neely. Blevins knocked Nitro’s Braxton Leyda out of tourney action with a 3-1 win but lost a major decision to Mackandle Freeman of Point Pleasant.

Freshman Evan Vandall was a fourth-place qualifier out of Region III. Vandall, a very promising up-and-comer, fell to Tristen Ginanni of Ritchie County at 145 lbs. Daron Vaughan was the third-place entry for Region III at 152 lbs. Vaughan went down to Braxton Dlugopolski of Oak Glen. Senior Jayden Robinson was the 160 lb. runner-up in Region III but lost a tough 6-4 decision to Ravenswood’s Ethan Tanner. Junior Dalton Heath was the fourth Cavalier in a row to drop their opening round match, falling 5-3 to Doddridge’s Dylan Knight at 170 lbs.

Cole Vandall had a spectacular sophomore season and showed his progress in the 182 lb. weight class. Vandall marched through his bracket pinning Greg Sauers of Oak Glen and defeating Mason Miller of East Hardy 7-0. Vandall dropped a 9-4 decision to Winfield’s Logan Howell in the championship semifinal but resumed his run in the consolations with a 3-0 win over Bryce Leegan of Braxton County. The third-place showdown was a rematch of the Region III championship, a match Connor Jones of Nicholas County won the first time with a pin at the 3:02 mark. Showing improvement, Vandall lasted to the 5:00 mark this time around to finish fourth on the podium.

Reece Baldwin exited the 195 lb. bracket with a first period loss to Sissonville’s Tate Britton. Senior Ethan Brown lost by fall to Cameron’s Gunnar Bryan in the 285 lb. class, falling in the second period.

Greenbrier West finished tenth overall in the Class A/AA division but claimed second place in Class A to Cameron. The Dragons held the number one spot all season in the West Virginia Wrestling Coaches Association/wvmat.com team poll. Greenbrier West held the number two spot in all but the season’s first poll. Since the Class A championship was recognized beginning with the 2017 tournament, the Cavaliers have finished fourth once, third twice, second once, and first twice, claiming the championship in 2019 and 2020.

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