By Matt Welch
Times West Virginian
It was business as usual for the North Marion Huskies as their wrestling team picked up wins over Grafton, Herbert Hoover and Williamstown on Friday.
Led by senior Ryan Elliott, the Huskies took down the three schools by scores of 63-12, 42-31 and 48-12.
Elliott started things off for his team by pinning Cody Goff of Grafton, last year’s state champion at the 126-pound weight class, in a hard-fought match.
The senior, Elliott, is generally a lock at the 120-pound weight class, where he won last year’s state championship but decided to wrestle up for the competition.
“Win or lose, I just wanted good competition. He’s a really good wrestler,” Elliott said of the decision to wrestle up a weight class. “He knows a lot, and I just had faith in what my coaches taught me.”
The pin for Elliott, which came in the third period of the match, set the tone for the Huskies for the rest of the night, and it made sense that the team’s senior leader would get them going.
“That was a state champion versus a state champion in the AA division,” head coach Dave Tennant said of the opening match. “It was (Ryan’s) decision. We had a lot of guys lose weight this week to get down to the lower weight classes, and it all depended on him. He’s our senior; he’s our captain; he’s our leader. And he thought it would be in our best interest to get that one so all the other guys could bump down into place.”
Despite feeling the effects of wrestling a heavier opponent, Tennant said Elliott told the coaches he felt good after the match.
“He stepped up right there. That’s a tough kid,” Tennant said of the match. “That’s the kind of leadership we want.”
Elliott would go on to win his next match via pin in the second period and then won his last match via forfeit to finish 3-0 on the night and remain undefeated this season.
Even though the senior hasn’t lost a match since his sophomore year, Tennant said that Elliott does more than just wrestle. He helps the younger guys.
“It’s important for Ryan to be there to set the example,” Tennant said of his lone senior. “We need Ryan Elliott’s type of leadership on this team.”
That help seemed to pay dividends, as the youth of the Huskies came through for big wins, including 10 wins coming from pins.
“We’d like to get all pins,” Tennant said. “But we understand we have to wrestle some tough matches and wrestle smart, especially with all of the young kids in the lineup.”
In all, the four freshmen and five sophomores in the lineup picked up a combined 10 wins on the night.
“They’re really stepping up,” Tennant said. “Kyle Elliott fought like hell. He had two tough matches that he lost, but no one will know that on paper. Justin Efaw came back and got that takedown in overtime. That’s always tough to do. Gavin Barker and Caleb Kuhn had pins. Jakob Guy, he’s a kid that stepped in at 170. Our regular, Chance Haught, is out, so he’s a guy that came in and got two pins for us.”
Tennant went on to say that the JV team plays a huge role in determining weight classes for his program and that he may have to count on them more and more as the season goes on.
“I feel like we have a pretty solid lineup this year,” Elliott said afterward. “They’re all really good. They know a lot, and our coaches teach us everything we need to know. Then they put it out there on the mat.”
In total, seven Huskies — Ryan Elliott, Kuhn, Austin Stanley, Justin Efaw, Barker, Guy and Tyler Arnett — posted perfect records on the night.
Joe Efaw, Roger Cummings and Justin O’Dell each finished 2-1 on the night, as well.
Elliott said he and the Huskies are just focused on the next one each time out, saying it’s all about, “One match at a time.”
The next match up for the Huskies will be next Friday, Dec. 28, when they wrestle at the East Fairmont Dual Tournament at East Fairmont High School.
Email Matt Welch at email@example.com or follow on Twitter @MattWelch_TWV.