The Blue Lions headed east just after Christmas to compete in the two-day, Wheeling Park Dual Meet Tournament.
The 30-team event is contested at Wheeling Jesuit University.
Head coach Louis Reid grew up just north of Wheeling in Steubenville, Ohio. He took his team a day early to work out at the university’s wrestling facility.
The Cardinal’s are coached by Sean Doyle who is a long-time friend and high school rival of Louis Reid.
“This was great for team building,” Reid said. “Our theme this year is all about family. This brought our wrestling family closer together.”
Wrestling began on Tuesday (Dec. 29) with the Lions facing Mogadore Field.
The match was close and came down to the final weight classes with Washington gaining the advantage to win 42-35.
The upper weights came through with Mason McCane, Steven Willis, and Trevor Hicks at 285.
Colton McNichols, a freshman wrestler filling in for the injured Derrick Wade at 220 pounds, was a key contributor.
Next up in their six-team pool was George Washington High School located in West Virginia.
A solid team ranked high in the West Virginia wrestling polls handed the Blue Lions their first loss of the tournament by a 40-31 score.
Tre Thomas (120), Zane Nelson (132) and Ethan Stewart (170) all competed against returning W. Va. State-placers.
Although all three Blue Lions lost their bouts, coach Reid was very pleased with their efforts.
“George Washington returned eight State-qualifiers and we start eight wrestlers with little or no varsity experience prior to the start of the season.”
Washington defeated Avon Lake 42-36 in round three.
The match started at 106 pounds and finished at heavyweight entering the final match with the team score tied.
Trevor Hicks earned a pin to seal the victory.
The Blue Lions kept on a roll winning against Musselman High School of West Virginia by a 48-36 score.
Zane Nelson and Chris Conger (138) both pinned returning State-qualifiers and Tre Thomas earned a decision over his opponent who reached the W. Va. State Tournament a year ago.
The early round successes provided the Blue Lions with advancement to yet another pool where each of the opponents had similar results finishing the earlier round in second place as did Washington.
A 45-25 loss to Morgantown began a momentum shift that did not favor the Blue Lions.
“There were a lot of swing matches that went their way. Mason lost a close bout for only his second loss on the season and Trevor got pinned while leading 10-5. That ended our first day.”
Day two began with Washington being edged by John Marshall High School. It was a close win last year but the role was reversed this time around by a 39-37 score.
“We won every match from 170 through heavyweight to a team that is ranked among the top five teams in their division in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference,” stated Reid.
University School (Morgantown, W. Va.) put another loss on the Lions with a hard-fought 28-25 defeat. Reid was impressed with Steven Willis and his efforts on the feet.
Trevor Hicks defeated yet another State-qualifier from West Virginia with a pin. His John Marshall opponent had been previously undefeated before Hicks pinned him.
University School’s best wrestler is the son of Sammie Henson who coaches the West Virginia Mountaineers wrestling team. Henson is a recent inductee to the USA Wrestling Hall Of Fame for his collegiate and international successes as a wrestler.
Reid described the young Henson as a “real hammer” for his skills and toughness.
The toughest loss of the tournament came at the hands of Alliance in the next round. The Aviators defeated Washington 66-12.
Collin George got a pin for Washington.
The final match saw the Washington wrestlers rebound well but losing a close 39-35 match to Point Pleasant.
Tre Thomas, Zane Nelson, Chris Conger, Mason McCane and Trevor Hicks all won by a pin.
The Blue Lions exit the tournament with an overall record of 9-7 on the season.
Head coach Louis Reid was still exited about how his team performed against excellent competition.
“I am happy with how hard our team worked,” Reid said. “There were challenges but we learned. I really would have liked to have won our pool and gotten to compete against Steubenville. They are really good and have a wrestler who won the Ironman Tournament (Tariq Wilson-126).
“We learned a lot but will still must improve.”
Leading Washington wrestlers at the tournament were Steven Willis (6-3), Tre Thomas (7-2), Chris Conger (7-2), Mason McCane (7-2) and Trevor Hicks (8-1). Conger improved from going 1-8 last season at the Wheeling Duals to 7-2 this year.