No. 1 University tops No. 6 Wheeling Park in battle of powerhouses

WHEELING – Two of the top W.Va. Class AAA high school wrestling powerhouses met Wednesday night inside the ‘Palace on the Hill’ at Wheeling Park High School in dual meet action.

Top-rated University started strong and ended strong in a 45-19 victory over the No. 6 Patriots before a nice crowd on Alumni Night and Youth Wrestling Night. The Hawks were state runners-up in 2022 to Wheeling Park and placed second to Parkersburg South last winter.

“We knew Wheeling Park was best in the middle. I thought our guys wrestled tough in the middle, but they were better,” University head coach Ken Maisel said.

“Going somewhere and winning 70-2 doesn’t do much for you, but coming to a place like this and winning lets us kind of gauge where we are at moving forward.” 

Winning the first five matches – two by forfeit – University bolted to a 24-0 lead before Wheeling Park could get on the board.

Pepper Martin got the Hawks off to a flying start with a pin at 106 in 1 minute, 28 seconds. Kaden Nieman followed with a forfeit at 113 and Brodie Emery’s 6-0 decision at 120 made it 15-0. Colton Gillespie earned a 5-2 nod at 126 and Max Vitale was awarded a forfeit at 132.

“It’s hard to beat the No. 1 team in the state when you have two kids who didn’t make weight and you have to forfeit those two weight classes,” Wheeling Park’s Brian Leggett said. “That was tough for us right out of the gate.”

Wheeling Park’s Adam Carman got his team on the scoreboard with a 4-2 decision over Carter Pauley at 138 in a battle of OVAC- and state-ranked wrestlers.

The Patriots cut into the deficit even more after Jack Lowe’s pin in 3:26 at 144 pounds made it 24-9 and Noah White made it three in a row with a 6-4 overtime decision at 150. White trailed 3-0 after one period but drew even at 4 with a takedown with 15 seconds left in regulation. He then recorded a takedown just 18 seconds into the extra session to pull Wheeling Park to within 24-12. 

Isaac Sands earned a 9-6 decision at 157 for a 24-15 reading, but University flexed its muscles late in winning four of the final bouts, with three of them by pinfall.

Luca Felix (165) pinned his opponent in 5:00; Jackson Pate (190) won by a 16-11 decision; Ryder Hastings (215) won by fall in 1:03; and Brock Kehler (285) closed things out with a 53-second pin.

In between, Wheeling Park’s Jameson Maynard dominated his opponent in a 13-2 major decision.

“A lot of the mistakes we made can be fixed and I think we can close that gap,” Leggett noted. “We’ll always rely on our middleweights.”

By KIM NORTH/The Intelligencer

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