By Carl Holcomb
Moorefield Wrestling crushed the nail with the hammer, staking claim to the inaugural Hardy County Battle for the Hammer trophy defeating East Hardy 54-24 during a trimatch with Keyser JV in the Hive where each team split for a victory and loss last Wednesday.
East Hardy grapplers bested the Golden Tornado JV 42-29, while Moorefield lost to them 48-36.
“[Hammer] When kids at any level are identified as top notch kids, coaches talk about that kid in the lineup as being a hammer,” Moorefield Coach T.J. Van Meter remarked.[private]
“The coach talks about you being the hammer on the nail. Obviously you want to be the hammer. We are developing some of those guys and so is East Hardy. East Hardy has a couple of good ones who will be fun and exciting to watch over the next four years.”
The first match of the night pitted the Yellow Jackets against Keyser JV.
The match started with the 182-lb. weight class in recognition of Moorefield’s first state wrestling champion Wil Schoonover, who is a member of the U.S. Army recently serving in Alaska and now in Afghanistan.
Moorefield freshman Matthew Jenkins (16-0) picked up the win via forfeit against Keyser to give the Yellow Jackets an early lead.
Keyser tied the score with a pin by Sylas Watts on Moorefield’s Allen Hardbarger during the 195-lb. weight class match in the second period at 3:31.
The Golden Tornado took the lead with first round pins by Brent Massie over Dakota Blacka in 220-lb. division (1:46) and Jimmy Ratliff pinned Joseph Palm in the 285-lb. match (1:04).
Keyser’s lead grew with back-to-back forfeits and another pin in the 120-lb. match as Joe Facaso pinned Andrew Puffinburger in the first period at :24.
Moorefield’s Jackson Weese and Paxton Coby earned pins to change the momentum momentarily.
Weese made two takedowns in the first period and had a near fall during the first period and would use a reversal and pin at the 3:04 mark of the second period for the victory.
Coby was sent to the mat in the first period, but kept fighting to stay on base and would get a reversal and escape points in the second period, then garnered a takedown in the third period and near fall points be offer making pin at the 4:11 mark over Keyser’s Julian McKoy.
Moorefield junior captain Matt Wright (145, 13-3 record) and Kevin Whetzel (138) both garnered forfeit victories, arms raised high in triumph.
Moorefield freshman Isaac Van Meter (152, 15-0) made a takedown and spun Keyser’s Nick Poland upside down tangling legs like a grapevine before positioning for a pin in the first round at :32.
Moorefield’s Rodney Wratchford (160) lasted three periods, but lost to Keyser’s Caden Biser in a 13-0 decision.
Moorefield’s Riley Hedrick made a reversal in the third period to cut the deficit to 8-6, then Keyser’s Jordan Stewart made a reversal and pin at the 4:23 mark for the win.
“It wasn’t effort I was disappointed with against Keyser, but execution. We wrestled most of those kids before earlier in the season and most of the matches went in our favor. Keyser works hard and the coaches there run an excellent program. It is one of the programs in our region to be modeled, to be like. What made me sit up after Keyser handed us our tails, I’m watching East Hardy going out and wrestling Keyser giving them everything they had. I knew this wasn’t going to be a gimme match by any stretch of the imagination. I don’t think top to bottom we got the best of each kid against Keyser. It was good to have a round break in between with the tri we had setup. I really like the way they refocused and responded and came back with the intensity wrestling to the capability that I know they have. It was exciting to watch and to see them give that kind of response,” Coach Van Meter commented.
The Cougars were set to pounce against Keyser JV and came away with a 42-29 victory.
“I am very impressed. They are a tough bunch of kids. They did really well, I’m happy. The kids wrestled hard, they came out and were focused. I’m happy with their performance,” East Hardy Wrestling Coach Steve Miller stated.
East Hardy 152-lb. grappler Dalton Miller pinned Keyser JV’s Nick Poland with one second left in the first period as both battled for position on the mat.
East Hardy’s Patrick Helsley secured a pin at the 1:09 mark in the 182-lb. weight class match using a motorcycle move.
The next win for the Cougars came by Thomas Reynolds in the heavyweight division with a pin at 3:50.
East Hardy 113-lb. grappler Sierra Miller made twisting moves flipping upside down and used a reversal to setup near fall points before getting a pin in the second period at 3:47 over Keyser’s Steve Kesner.
East Hardy 126-lb. wrestler Phillips lost in the second period at 3:35.
Cole Pusl pinned Keyser’s Dakota McKneely in the first period of the 132-lb. match at :23 as the Cougars built a solid lead.
East Hardy’s Emili Flynn garnered a pin at the 1:54 mark of the 138-lb. match against Keyser’s Julian McKay with a reversal changing the outcome.
Sky Spell took a forfeit win in the 145-lb. weight class against the Golden Tornado.
The Yellow Jackets fought against East Hardy in the final match of the night winning 54-24.
“It was a tale of two matches. I was really pleased with our second round against East Hardy. East Hardy has some really good kids. One match that comes to mind is the 220 class, that kid placed third at Berkeley Springs. That was a tough match for Dakota and for Dakota to come out on top with the pin really turned the tide in our favor. Any time you have a team, it is really important to fill out as many weight classes as you can. East Hardy is just like us and beginning to reap the benefits of having a youth program that is grooming wrestlers for the high school level. It was a nice, exciting, intense cross county rivalry match that had a little bit of excitement to it. Excitement in a good way, there was no pushing or shoving. It was clean, good sportsmanship, great wrestling. To me what a rivalry should be,” Coach Van Meter noted.
The Battle for the Hammer started with Moorefield’s Jenkins (182) making three takedowns and earning near fall points in the first period against East Hardy’s Helsley, who notched two escapes to help force a second round.
Jenkins garnered a near fall in the second period and finished with a pin at :59.
Hardbarger took a forfeit win to increase the lead.
Blacka created a takedown on Hinton Shifflett, who countered with a reversal.
Shifflett made a takedown before Black used an escape and would jointly fall to the mat and rumble to a pin with 23 seconds left in the first period.
Palm and Reynolds both had takedowns and escapes in the first period.
Reynolds made a reversal and takedown for a pin at the 3:54 mark of the second round.
There was a double forfeit at the 106-lb. weight class.
East Hardy freshman Sierra Miller took a forfeit win, then Moorefield’s Puffinburger had the same moments later.
Weese made a double leg takedown on Nathan Phillips and earned near fall points before using a cross-face move for a pin at the 31-second mark of the first period for the Yellow Jackets.
Pusl and Coby fought into the third period with Pusl earning the initial points in the first period with a takedown and near fall points.
Coby made a reversal and garnered near fall points in the third period, but Pusl made a pair of reversals prior to notching a pin with 14 seconds left.
Moorefield’s Kevin Whetzel made a takedown and near fall points against East Hardy’s Emili Flynn in the first period, then added another takedown in the second period before getting a pin at 3:49.
Wright kept the scoring momentum going with a second round pin over Spell at the :39 mark which included two takedowns and two near fall moves.
Van Meter remained undefeated with a pin in the first period over Blake Miller at 1:11 with a double leg takedown.
Wratchford won forfeit points for a 54-18 lead.
“They brought that on me tonight [hammer]. I didn’t know anything about it, so it was a surprise. We did well and proud of it. If we keep these numbers up building the future, this will become a big event in our county,” Coach Miller said.
East Hardy earned six points in the final match as Dalton Miller notched a pin at 1:34 in the first period over Hedrick, but Moorefield walked away with the hammer.
“East Hardy came out and wrestled hard in every match, but I was really just ecstatic the way our guys responded. It was nice to get that home match, so the parents and extended family could come out. I think it had the reverse effect though, perhaps they were too amped up and the butterflies were going. We’re young and a lot of these kids are coming out for their first varsity match. As a coach you want to see improvement and to see it happen within an hour on the same night was just exciting and fun to watch,” Coach Van Meter concluded.
Moorefield remains undefeated overall as a team against the Cougars since their inception.
The Yellow Jackets will be competing at the Braxton Invitational this weekend and East Hardy visits Hampshire tomorrow.[/private]