“The first period is won by the best technician. The second period is won by the kid in the best shape. The third period is won by the kid with the biggest heart.” Dan Gable, U.S. Olympic Wrestler
There were 60 variations of decisions made in just the three weight classes the Yellow Jackets competed in at the 71st annual WVSSAC State Wrestling Tournament in Huntington as every match was competitive as expected and most of the other brackets were comprised primarily of decisions which is exactly what Moorefield freshman Isaac Van Meter utilized to reach the podium for the bronze medal.
“It means a lot and to know I am just a freshman there’s so much more out there I can do. It is great. This is one of the best atmospheres I have ever wrestled in here. It is so intense and everybody is rooting for you,” Moorefield Wrestling 160-lb. third place state medalist Isaac Van Meter noted.
Over the weekend, Moorefield Wrestling sent a program record three grapplers to compete in Huntington for an opportunity to become a champion or place winner with freshmen Isaac Van Meter (160-lb.) and Kevin Wetzel (138-lb.) plus sophomore Paxton Coby (120-lb.) seeking to make history.
The Yellow Jackets also brought captain and state alternate Matthew Wright along with Jackson Weese for support at the state tournament.
Arriving in Huntington to see 448 wrestlers competing in 224 matches on eight mats during the opening session state tournament inside the Big Sandy SuperStore Arena with 140 ranked wrestlers was both an exciting atmosphere and a daunting battle, yet it helped prepare the Yellow Jackets for the future with unfinished business.
Behind the third place effort from Van Meter, the Yellow Jackets finished in ninth place overall in the Class A team scoring.
“That’s awesome to be ninth place. All year we were just inside the top-10 or just outside the top-10 in the coaches poll and to come down here to the state tournament and to be ninth and earn your way is great. To be in the top-10 as a team wasn’t necessarily a goal, but we just tried to work hard and get better everyday and it’s nice to be recognized,” Moorefield Wrestling Coach T.J. Van Meter explained.
Van Meter was ranked fourth in the state in the coaches poll for the 160-lb. weight division for Class AA-A entering the state tournament.
Van Meter notched the necessary points to reach the state semifinals of the championship bracket before losing by a 5-1 decision to Fayetteville senior Trent Pullens and worked on redemption in the consolation bracket earning the third place state medal in a 12-3 major decision over East Fairmont junior Dimarrian Thomas.
“Only two people at the end of a season get to walk away with their hands raised and that is the champion and the third place finisher,” Coach Van Meter pointed out.
“Also the fifth place finisher, but nobody brags about being fifth place. A lot of times the third place winner, that is a tougher road to hoe. You’ve got to bounce back after a loss and work your way through to the podium. Not to take anything away from the champion, but you didn’t really face all the adversity as those others did having to rebound from a loss. I thought Isaac did a great job of taking that semifinal loss in stride and coming back today ready to wrestle.”
Coby and Wetzel each wrestled in two rounds, but it was more about gaining experience and developing a bond with each other.
Coby had a daunting task facing the eventual three-time state champion Cole Laya of East Fairmont in the opening round match going down in the first period in just under a minute left (:55) and the speed plus strength was too much to handle.
“It’s a crazy environment with all the wrestlers from around the state and all the big schools. It is really crazy how everybody comes together and the competition is crazy. I’m just so glad I got here,” Moorefield Wrestling sophomore Paxton Coby remarked.