The Clay County Panther wrestling team was on the road at Braxton County High School to compete in the Braxton County Invitational. They faced some of the toughest competition of the year at this tournament. Twenty-one teams went head to head, and most of those teams were stacked with ranked wrestlers, so to say it would be a tough road to the finals would be an understatement. With hours and hours of preparation, focus and training under the belt, the Panthers hit the mats and made themselves known. No matter where CCHS wrestlers go, no matter if they are down in numbers, they are the ones to beat. With that being said, the wrestlers that represent CCHS give it one hundred percent plus some extra, and considering the caliber of wrestlers at this event, they did pretty well. When the sweat stopped rolling, there were three CCHS wrestlers in the finals. Ryan Stewart had a great tournament and finished 5th overall. Joel Cruickshank also had a great tournament and placed 6th in his weight class. Austin Dobbins, ranked 4th, went up against Levi Jarvis in the final, and it was a whirlwind match. Both wrestlers were equally matched in strength and abilities. The match was dead even – neither scoring against the other until Jarvis got one point for an escape. The match progressed and an apparent takedown by Dobbins that was worth two points wasn’t awarded, and the match ended with a 0-1 win for Jarvis. It is unfortunate that a coach can’t stop a match and call for an instant replay; the tables may have been turned. Up next was Brandon White, ranked #2, going up against Noah Adams, the #1 ranked 195lb wrestler from Independence. This was going to prove to be a great match, or so we thought. These two wrestlers are pound for pound as tough as they come. Both face off and the match begins with neither gaining the upper ground. The second period starts and White has control. While working on a move, Adams catches White in a hold that many have tried to get but fail to carry out because of the simplicity of it. In the sport of wrestling, you have an opportunity once you have been taken to your back to fight it so the referee has to count two seconds with both shoulder blades on the mat before it is considered a pin. That being said, White didn’t have a chance to fight it because lightning couldn’t have hit the mat faster than the ref’s hand did, again a seemingly unfair call. However, the CCHS wrestling team is not in the business of whining about a loss or a bad call – they suck it up and move on till the next time they meet, which in this case will be the state competition, and it will be a different story. Brandon Stutler took on the #2 heavyweight Peyton Carey of Hoover. The match was definitely a little lopsided as Stutler was giving up 45 pounds to the much bigger Carey. That is, of course, no big difference when it comes to Stutler. At one point in the match Stutler bench pressed Carey off of him when he tried to get the pin, a serious feat of strength. However, at the end of the match it was Carey defeating Stutler. These were good matchups between titans of their weight classes. This was also the first time they met on the mat as well, Stutler vs Carey, Dobbins vs Jarvis and White vs Adams. The next time might be a whole different story. Congratulations to the Panthers for placing 7th as a team and bringing home three second places, one fifth place and one sixth place. The CCHS wrestling team will be at Calhoun High School this weekend and then home for the Bob Stover Classic.