2011-12 Wrestling preview
Although Berkeley Springs High School has rarely filled all 14 weight classes in wrestling, they have consistently fielded one of the best wrestling teams in West Virginia. In fact, according to wvmat.com, Berkeley Springs, over the past 10 years, has had the fourth best cumulative finish among Class AA schools. Overall the Indians have crowned 36 state champions which ties John Marshall High School for the eighth place in the number of individual state champions since the tournament's inception in 1948.
Last year the Tribe continued their excellence by winning the Class AA Region and placing second at the state tournament.
Two-time defending state champion Tory Bennett returns for his senior season, but losses from graduation and a transfer will be devastating to Berkeley Springs.
Lost to graduation were three-time state champion Damen Capper (now wrestling for Shippensburg University) along with two-time state medalists’, Cohen Hovermale, Zac Risinger and Hobert Delph, along with two-time state qualifier Bobby Mathai. Additionally, two-time defending state champion Ryan Diehl transferred to Trinity Catholic High School in Camp Hill, Pa.
"We've had a nice run, but it would be unrealistic for us to have high expectations this year," said Berkeley Springs coach Darrell Bennett. “We only return four wrestlers, so we will be young and inexperienced. We had a tremendous senior class a year ago and the horsepower we lost is going to be hard to replace."
The four returning grapplers are Tory Bennett, Matt Parkinson, Kyle Shambaugh and Billy Wilson.
Bennett has won back-to-back state titles after placing fourth in the state during his freshman campaign. The talented senior was a perfect 51-0 last season and has an outstanding career record of 154-7. Bennett, who has signed a letter of intent to wrestle at Lock Haven University next year, will likely wrestle at 182 pounds, after starting the season at 195, according to Coach Bennett.
Parkinson posted a record of 37-17 a year ago and earned a trip to the state tournament. The junior will wrestle 220 pounds this season, while another junior Kyle Shambaugh will fill the 195 pound class. Shambaugh, injured most of last season, recorded a 14-9 record.
Sophomore Billy Wilson won 22 matches last year and will either fill the 120 or 126 pound weight class.
Also wrestling for the Indians will be Michael Percy (So), Will Weaver (Fr), Justin Hutson (So), C.J. Capp (So) and Josh Capp (Jr).
"We want to see our kids get better each and every day," said Bennett. “We have a lot of kids with little or no experience and they will need to work really hard so they can improve and peak by the time the regional tournament rolls around."
Berkeley Springs will open the season on December 3 at the Hedgesville Duals Tournament.