HUNTINGTON – The Buckhannon-Upshur Buccaneers are sending nine wrestlers to the 2020 West Virginia State High School Wrestling Championships that begins today and will run through Saturday at the Big Sandy Super Store Arena.
Two Buccaneers will enter the state tournament as regional champions – Julius Hobbs (126 pounds) and Jacob Smithson (170 pounds).
Both wrestlers have the potential to win state championships for the Buccaneers.
For Smithson, a state championship is the only thing missing from the senior’s wrestling resume as he is a conference champion, a regional champion and a four-time qualifier for the state meet.
Smithson, who recently recorded his 150th career win, said keeping it simple will be the key to his success at the state tournament.
“I just need to go out and wrestle to my capabilities and listen to my coaches,” remarked Smithson. “I don’t see there being any added pressure knowing this is my last time being here as a senior. I just want to go down and enjoy the experience.”
Smithson will continue his wrestling career at the next level at Lake Erie College.
Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Jacob Orr said that Smithson has already done what he needs to do to become a state champion.
“He has put the time in,” said Orr. “He is the epitome of what it takes to win. He works hard in the off-season and he has worked hard all four years he has been here. He has battled injury and after injury and has always stayed engaged and never felt sorry for himself. He has a champion’s mentality and attitude. He has a legitimate shot of being on top of that podium when everything is over on Saturday. He is wrestling incredibly well right now. I don’t think that there is anyone in the state at 170 pounds that can touch him.”
For Hobbs, the junior has qualified for the state tournament all three years he has been on the mat.
Hobbs said he has to stay within himself if he wants to bring home a state title.
“I have to go and wrestle my match, not my opponents match,” remarked Hobbs “I need to go out there and grind it all the way through to the end. This is the best against the best and they are going to get the best from me. My opponents are going to have to work for it. I am not simply going to hand it over to them.”
Orr said he sees Hobbs as a threat to anyone on the mat in Huntington.
“You can never count him out of a match,” remarked Hobbs. “He never gives up. He always keeps chipping away and hammers away with a no-quit attitude. He has that drive to win that sometimes you just can’t coach. That is a lot of his success. He is simply coming at you and will never quit. I think he has a legitimate shot for a state title as well. When he is on he is deadly on the mat. He can beat you in all three positions.”
Orr is more than pleased to see 90 percent of his team make states after nine of his 10 wrestlers qualified at regionals.
Joining Smithson and Hobbs at states will be teammates Aidan Wilson (113 pounds), Nathan Cornett (132 pounds), Tucker Hurst (138 pounds), Breagan Pearson (145 pounds), Luke Bohnsack (152 pounds), Alex Bennett (220 pounds) and Todd Cutlip (285 pounds).
“It’s super exciting to see that many go,” stated Orr. “On paper it looked like maybe we would have six going based on their seedings, but I feel like we wrestled at my expectations at regionals. We wrestled incredibly well at regionals. When it set in that we were taking nine it was exciting to see their hard work pay off.”
Orr said that he doesn’t want to see his wrestlers focus on winning or losing but simply going out and wrestling to their full potential at the state meet.
“When you are start worrying about winning and losing, then 90 percent of the time you are going to fall short and not wrestle well,” noted Orr. “We want to focus on the process about going and doing what you have been trained to do and the wins and losses will take care of themselves.”