Palmer Most Outstanding Wrestler at Doan Ford Invite
BARNESVILLE — A handful of local teams tasted victory Saturday night at the 50th annual Barnesville Doan Ford Invitational.
Some more than others.
Wheeling Park, which boasted two individual champions and sent eight competitors to the awards’ stand, stood above all others as action concluded at the golden anniversary prep wrestling event inside Barnesville High School, amassing 202 points, 27.5 more than runner-up Mountain View.
Buckeye Local’s Brian Palmer Jr. was named Most Outstanding Wrestler after claiming the 138-pound title.
After finishing second in the tourney a season ago, taking another step forward was big for Patriots head coach Brian Leggett.
“Our guys wrestled really well,” said Leggett, the reigning Rod Oldham Award winner as the top Triple-A coach in West Virginia. “Technically, we did everything right. We have some things we need to clean up, though. Some mental mistakes, keeping our composure. We can do a much better job of keeping our composure in some of those tight matches.”
Freshmen Quinton Velas and Erick Brothers both earned titles for Park, both coming via one-point decisions.
“I was most-satisfied with our younger guys,” Leggett stated.
Velas, seeded second at 106 pounds, recorded three straight pins before edging top-seeded Alex Overly of Shenandoah, 6-5. He was down 2-0 after one period before storming back and turning some heads.
“Coming in here as a freshman and knocking off some really tough guys and the top-seeded guys was awesome,” Leggett said. “He wrestled great.”
Brothers, at 149, topped Westfall’s Starr Kelly, 4-3. Brothers pinned top seed Chace Mathess of Parkersburg in 49 seconds to reach the final.
“We vary a lot,” Leggett said of his lineup. “We have a lot of older guys who are leaders on the team and we have the younger guys who look up to those older guys, as well.”
One of the Patriots’ vets — junior Stevie Mitchell — dropped a tough 3-2 decision to Mountain View’s Elijah White in the 145-pound. Park’s other finalist, sophomore Cody Taggart, was blanked by Barnesville’s Griffen Stephen, 3-0, in the 113-pound title match.
“We like coming here every year to this setting,” Leggett said. “It’s a good measuring stick of where you’re at. You see a lot of OVAC teams.”
Stephen was the lone champ for the host Shamrocks, who finished fourth in the standings with 127.5 points, nearly 20 points behind third-place Indian Creek.
“I can’t say anything about him that people don’t already know,” Barnesville head coach Jayson Stephen said about his son, a sophomore and top seed in his weight class. “He’s a super-hard worker and very humble. He doesn’t look for anything and doesn’t pay attention to the noise or anything. He did that this weekend and earned a well-deserved title.”
Barnesville, which won the season-opening Rick Link event at Union Local last week, had six placers.
“I tell kids that if you can get in the top six you’ll have a good year,” Stephen continued. “Coming out of here and getting some placers and competition and seeing what you need to do makes it worthwhile.
“This tournament is another bear. Getting six placers is pretty good. I was hoping for one or two more, but it’s early in the year. It gives us something we can work on.”
Bellaire’s Cody Albaugh claimed the 160-pound title by besting Barnesville’s other finalist, senior Owen Oliver. It was a battle of the top two seeds in the weight class
Palmer, who earned his 100th career victory in the semifinals, recorded three pins in four matches during the two-day event. Against No. 4 seed Dominic Paterra of Indian Creek, the Panthers junior won in 3:40.
Palmer was expecting to see Wheeling Park’s Andrew Shelek in the final. But the top-seeded senior, who was runner-up at last season’s state tournament at 145, was ousted by Paterra in the semis, 9-3. Still, the victory was sweet for Palmer, now 12-0 this season.
“It was a big day,” Palmer said. “It meant a lot. I put everything into it and went out and got it. I’m leader of my team and I wanted to show everyone what Buckeye is about.”
Martins Ferry senior Donte Lewis tasted victory for the second consecutive year in the tourney. The third seed earned a 1-0 triumph against fourth seed Austin Fowler of Coshocton.
The Purple Riders’ other finalist, Kameron Hughes fell to Indian Creek’s Austin Starr by fall in 2:23 in the 170-pound final. The Redskins’ Elijah Llewellyn was also a champion, defeating Southern’s Hunter Morris by major decision.