By Allen Hamrick
The mats were so hot Friday and Saturday at the Pat Vance Invitational at Nitro that anyone could smell the rubber burning a mile off.
The Clay High Panther wrestling team, with a tough core of returning wrestlers and some new to the mats, was in the house delivering pain and taking names. Anytime the Panthers come into a tournament, most every team represented wants to beat the Clay team, and as they found out, it’s not easy and never will be. Bottom line is, Clay may not have taken first place, but for a wrestler skilled enough to beat one of the Panthers, they do so by taking a considerable beating. There was plenty of Kleenex to go around for those that got beat.
With the team in a rebuild season, the boys did pretty well. Ryan Stewart finished at the top, going undefeated and bringing home the gold. Andrew Stutler took second place, Jacob Miklos took fourth, Joel Cruikshanks took fifth and Trevor Armes took sixth.
Teams will have to bring all they got to the mat to beat the Panthers, and with the skill level that is up and coming from CCMS, the Panther team will be stacked with talent and tough to beat. The Panthers will hit the mats once again this weekend at the Braxton County Invitational, so come out in support.
Also, put January 29 on your calendar, as the Bob Stover Classic will return to the CCHS gym in force. Six teams have already pledged to be there with more on the way. It should be a good line up of wrestling, and I will put the official listing of teams in the next paper. Plan on being a part of this annual event. This county may have lost much, but these youth give 100 percent to their sport and haven’t lost their zeal to win.