BUCKHANNON — The Buckhannon-Upshur youth wrestling program has put together a very successful 2021-22 season, resulting in 14 wrestlers qualifying to compete in the state tournament. The group of B-U youth wrestlers who have qualified for states consists of Brenson Baron 4-under division (35), Jedidiah Vance 4-under division (50), Waylon Barberio 6-under division (55), Jaxson Wingler 8-under division (70), Briar Foster 10-under division (60), Conner Marple 10-under (70), Kadeen Edwards 10-under (80), Hunter Rohr 12-under (100), Haiden Curlee 12-under (HWT), Tucker Mason 12-under (105), Brock Woodson 12-under (125), Hunter Cowger (B-UMS) (128), Jeremy Jett (B-UMS) (90), Kaiden Wagner (B-UMS) (145) and Charlie Curlee in the 8-under girls division.
Before the regional championships, the young wrestlers competed in the Coalfield Conference North Regional tournament, back on Saturday, February 6. 22 of the 23 Buckhannon youth wrestlers qualified for the conference championship tournament the following weekend. During the Coalfield Conference Championship tournament held back on Saturday, February 12, 11 of 19 competing Buckhannon youth wrestlers qualified for the state championship tournament. Briar Foster and Hunter Rohr took first place finishes, while both Waylon Barberio and Brock Woodson finished in second place for their respective weight classes. Jaxson Winger, Gavin Nazelrod and Kadeen Edwards all took third place, while Dane Lauer, Luke Nazelrod and JJ Harris finished back in fourth place for their weight classes. Young Brenson Baron took a fifth place finish to round out the top performers for the young Bucs at the conference championship meet.
The wrestlers followed up a conference championship tournament in which they thought they slightly underwhelmed with their performance by dominating the WVYWA Region 3 State Qualifier the very next day on Sunday, February 13.
Coach Baron spoke on the dramatic overnight turnaround. “Our wrestlers turned the corner and made huge improvements today in a mirror tournament to Coalfield Conference Championships. We Qualified 14 out of 15 wrestlers today for states. I was very happy with our overall response and determination,” said Baron.
Jedidiah Vance, Waylon Barberio, Jaxon Winger, Briar Foster, Kadeen Edwards and Hunter Rohr all won their respective weight classes. By winning six separate weight classes, the young Bucs proved that they easily possessed some of the top young wrestling talent in the state. Brenson Baron narrowly missed out on being the seventh young Buc to win their weight class, finishing second. Tucker Mason and Jeremy Jett each took third place finishes, while Brock Woodson and Hunter Cowger both claimed fourth place finishes. Conner Maple finished fifth and both Haiden Curlee and Kaiden Wagner finished back in sixth place to wrap up the list of top performers at the state qualifying tournament.
As with any team endeavor, especially involving kids with ages ranging 4 through 12, it takes a lot of support to ensure the program gives every available opportunity to these young athletes. As such, head coach Scott Baron is joined by a collection of volunteer assistant coaches and support staff. Joining Baron in coaching this group was assistant coaches Jessica Everson, DJ Barberio, Josh Lauer, George Lavis, Donavan Vance and Andy Travise. Other volunteers that comprised the team’s support staff this season included Neal Phillips, Kim Rohr, Brittney Baron, Danielle Kontak and April Sears. Baron has been consistently involved in every level of wrestling since 6-years-old, when he discovered a love for the sport while growing up in Pennsylvania.
When asked what her favorite memory/highlight from this season as a coach was, Jessica Everson said, “I would say that our major highlight of the year was sending 22 out of 23 wrestlers to states. That is a major accomplishment for this young group.”
Finally, when asked if wrestling is generally a difficult sport to pick up on for athletes or for coaches to teach and what would you say to someone who’s kids are interested in taking up wrestling, but are unfamiliar with the sport, Baron said, “I wouldn’t say wrestling is hard for athletes to pick up or for coaches to instruct, but it is a learning process. A champion isn’t made overnight, it takes countless hours of hard work and dedication to reach that level. For someone that is just starting out and is thinking about getting involved in wrestling, I would like to say that the sport provides a wonderful opportunity for kids to grow through both mental and physical challenges.”