CHARLESTON— After earning their way during the WVYWA Region II Qualifier Tournament, a lengthy list of Bearcub wrestlers made their way to Charleston over the weekend, taking to the mats of the WVYWA State Championship Tournament.
During the qualifier, 17 of 19 Grafton Wrestling Club members that competed finished within the top six and secured their spot for state competition, with every Grafton wrestler ending the day in the top eight.
Crimson Efaw (4u35), led top finishes for Grafton at the tournament, topping the podium at first place.
Ian Glaspell (10uHWT), Dylan Gutshall (MS 135), Holden Penland (4u50), Brayton Davis (10u95), Jason Austin (8u65), Cash Nestor (12u160) and Garrett Davis (12u145), all earned second place finishes, while JW Nestor (10u95) and Rizer Efaw (6u55) took third.
Also, while at the qualifying tournament, Rondo Koontz (12u105) placed fourth, Max Griffin (6uHWT) and Luke Knotts (10u90) place fifth and Gaige Glover (6u55), along with Maddie Lynch (12u105) rounded things out finishing in sixth place in their classes.
As a team, the club finished 7th place out of 15.
With a strong showing in Martinsburg, the team returned home with two weeks to prepare for Charleston and would see commitment pay off.
Joined by more than 120 other clubs and schools from throughout the states, the young Grafton athletes represented their club and hometown with excellence across the board, taking wins, learning through the losses and maintaining outstanding sportsmanship through the process.
Collectively, the Grafton Wrestling Club earned an impressive 15th place out of 122 registered teams.
Making a big impact for the Bearcubs were top scorers J. Nestor, R. Efaw, Glaspell, C. Nestor and C. Efaw.
J. Nestor received a first round bye and would win by fall over Donovan Dunkin from Wheeling Wrestling Club to move on to quarterfinals.
Unfortunately, J. Nestor would face difficulties in his quarterfinal match, falling to the consolation bracket, where he won round four by fall and round five by decision.
Taking the win by fall over Evan Cottrill (Wheeling), J. Nestor advanced to and would come out victories in the third-place match. Concluding the tournament with 24.5 points earned for his team.
After going 1/1 to start his series, R. Efaw would also fall to the lower bracket, overcoming four opponents from four different clubs to earn his chance to battle for an overall third-place finish against Caper Summers (Calhoun Youth).
R.Efaw’s win by major decision (12-3) secured the third place finish for him and contributed to the 23 points he added for his team.
A standout for the Grafton Club this season, Glaspell, earned his team 21.5 points and was named State Runner-Up in his class.
After a first round bye, he tore through his competitors winning his first three matches by decision.
In the first-place match Glaspell was pinned up against EP Rattlers member Teddy Day, who would win by fall, landing Glaspell in a very respectable second for the 10UHWT class.
Also scoring some valuable team points for Grafton was C. Nestor.
During his first match, he met up with Coleman Tyree (Nicholas County) and would get the pin in just 29 seconds, moving on to the quarterfinal match that would see C. Nestor fall by a 2-0 decision, he would claim victory in three consolation matches to earn the opportunity to compete in the third-place match.
This match had C. Nestor battling it out with Poca’s Dylan Cline. By decision, C. Nestor secured the third-place win, and scored 21 points for Grafton.
Being one of the youngest to represent Grafton at states, C. Efaw also earned some impressive points for the Bearcubs.
C. Efaw was given a first round bye and from there went 4-1, falling in the semifinals to Cainen Robinson of Gilmer County but prevailing in the third-place match, getting the win by fall over Pierce Carpenter (Sissonville).
Also wrestling hard and earning top finishes at the tournament were, Hailey Nice (Girls 40), 2nd, 3-2; Garrett Davis (12u145), 3rd, 4-1; Maddie Lynch (Girls 105), 3rd , 2-2; Holden Penland (4u50), 4th, 1-3; Paisley Glover (Girls 40), 5th, 0-5, Brayton Davis (10u95), 5th, 3-2; Ryllee Talkington (Girls 90) 7th, 2-2; and Rondo Koontz (12u105), 8th , 2-3.
“Words cannot even express how proud I am of our team! Our wrestlers, coaches and parents are the absolute best! We are bringing some serious hardware home to Grafton,” expressed club representative and parent Jennifer Glaspell. “Thank you coaches for all your hard work this season.”
Many parents of the club shared in the sentiments of J. Glaspell after the successful weekend.
“Holden has had his ups and downs during his first-ever wrestling season, but throughout it all, the coaches for Grafton Wrestling Club, the parents and his teammates have been amazing, supportive and encouraging,” boasted first time wresting parent Amber Penland. “I see the older kids uplift and cheer on the young beginners. They help them out, even when they don’t have to. Forget the medals or trophies, the character and sportsmanship earned through this sport is the real reward!”