Matt Parkinson State Wrestling Champion
by Jamie Harris
At the West Virginia State Wrestling Championships last weekend in Huntington, Berkeley Springs sent six wrestlers in search of a state championship.
Two advanced to the championship semi-finals, but only one advanced to the state finals.
Now Matt Parkinson can etch his name in the history books of Berkeley Springs Indian wrestlers that have captured a state wrestling championships.
From the very first state wrestling champion in 1962 won by Don Healy to the 2012 championship captured by Tory Bennett, Parkinson will now be part of Indian wrestling history by adding his name to long list for 2013 as he became the 34th state wrestling champion for Berkeley Springs High School.
Parkinson wrestling in the 220 lb. weight class with a record of 48-1 started his state title run on Thursday night by making short work of Magnolia’s Tyler Baker with a pin in :29 seconds. On Friday morning in the championship quarterfinals, Parkinson again took care of business quickly as he pinned Dylan Pickrell of Wirt County in :29 seconds.
In the semi-finals, Parkinson went nose-to-nose and cheek-to-cheek with Vincent Delligatti. Delligatti came into the semifinals with an impressive 45-1 record. The lone loss a 6-4 setback came at the hands of the Indians Matt Parkinson at the Hedgesville Duals on the opening weekend of wrestling on December 1.
It belied the intensity the two would eventually display in a Class AA/A semifinal match that went over the edge. So many of the 14 total points were scored at the edge of the circle.
For Parkinson, after giving up a penalty point to knock the score at six just as the third-period buzzer sounded, he just got himself extra motivated to manage a single-leg takedown and the winning two points 22 seconds into overtime.
Parkinson fell behind 2-0 34 seconds into the match during a takedown at the edge of the circle. A reversal tied the score, but Dellligatti scored an escape to take a 3-2 lead into the second period.
An escape by Parkinson evened the score at 3-3 heading to the third period.
A Delligatti escape put him back into the lead, but he gave up a penalty point when he pushed Parkinson off the edge of the mat. Parkinson got a takedown, barely on the edge of the circle, with 34 seconds left. He surrendered another escape, however.
Then came the penalty point when the referee ruled he backed out and away from Delligatti at the resumption of action with three seconds left. "I believe I deserved it," Parkinson said. "I believe the ref did exactly what he should have - that's calling the match."
Parkinson became more determined, however. "It made me realize I can't just sit there," Parkinson said. "I gotta go after him."
In the championship finals, Parkinson squared off against unbeaten Zane Weese from Herbert Hoover. Weese entered the finals with a perfect 48-0 record and looked like a possible roadblock in Parkinson quest for the state gold.
In the end, it took Parkinson five minutes, but the Indian senior finally sensing momentum used instructions from Coach Darrell Bennett to run “Bundles” to turn the strong Weese to his back and from there in a matter of seconds the referee slapped the mat and the small Indian contingent erupted in a roar.
Parkinson's match with Weese, a junior, proved to be a test of wills. "He was strong," Parkinson said. "I tell you what won the match was doing nothing, but what the coach told me. That made me win the match."
The pair was tied at 0 when Parkinson heard the instruction from Coach Bennett. It didn't register that it could mean a victory. "What clicked in my head is do as he says," Parkinson said. "Just do as he said."
Coach Bennett thought it was a case of conditioning beyond the strength. "He's in shape," Bennett said. "I would like to have all my wrestlers in his condition. "He really works hard. If you ask him to run hard, he runs harder; if you tell him to drill hard, he drills harder. I'd like to have a lot of him, just in different sizes."
Berkeley Springs also had two other wrestlers earn medalist honors. Indian senior Kyle Shambaugh advanced to the championship semifinals at the 195 lb. weight class. There he fell to eventual state champion Jesse Roman of East Fairmont by a pin at the 2:24 mark.
Shambaugh advanced the semifinals with a pair of wins. On Thursday night he decisioned Caleb Ferguson of Wirt County 6-0. In the quarter-finals, Shambaugh pinned Region III champion Dylon McBride of Independence at the 2:45 mark.
After the loss to Roman, Shambaugh faced off with Jared Wright of Magnolia in the consolation semifinals. There he lost by a pin at the 4:40 mark.
In the fifth/sixth place match up, Shambaugh took on Shawn Pennington of Bluefield and earned a tough 5-2 decision to finish fifth in the state in his final match as an Indian wrestler.
Junior Billy Wilson took the hard way to earn his sixth place medal. In the opening round, Wilson lost to East Fairmont’s Brady Nesslerotte by a pin at the 2:38 mark.
Then on Friday in a do or die situation, Wilson wrestled like a man possessed needing to win three matches on the day to secure a spot in the medal rounds. In the first round of consolations, he tech falled Cody Cogar of Webster County 16-0. In the second round of consolations, Wilson faced off with rival Garrett Crites of Keyser. Wilson had faced Crites several times throughout his career and has lost all match ups.
Wrestling a tactical match Wilson was finally able to topple his rival 3-1 in overtime with a takedown to advance to the third round of consolations.
There he faced Tyler Cheuvront of Wirt County. Wilson again being aggressive took the match to his Wirt opponent and picked up a 9-3 decision to earn his spot in the top six medal round.
In the consolation semi-finals, Wilson was pinned by Ryan Arnett of North Marion at the 3:56 mark. Then in the battle for fifth/sixth place Wilson dropped an 11-1 major decision to Randall Robie of Wahama.
Berkeley Springs as a team finished in 15th place with 52.5 points. Greenbriar West captured the A/AA State Team Title with 131.5 points, while Independence finished runner up for the second straight year with 119.5 points.
The Indians also had CJ Capps pick up a win on Friday morning before losing in the consolation second round.
Ben King earned a bye in the first round of consolations before dropping a 6-0 decision to Ethan Whitlock of Keyser.
Senior Josh Capps dropped a 14-2 major decision to Cole Ritchie of Calhoun then could not continue for the rest of the tournament due to a concussion.
All in all, Bennett took six to the big dance and in the end had three bring home top six honors. None was bigger than Parkinson, Berkeley Springs newest “King of the Mat.”