HUNTINGTON, W.Va. — Even in defeat, the positives still shine through.
The Wahama wrestling program made some history this weekend at the 65th annual WVSSAC Wrestling Championships at Big Sandy Superstore Arena, as the White Falcons scored their first-ever state final appearance in Class AA-A.
Wahama sophomore Kane Roush knocked down historical walls Thursday and Friday after posting a perfect 3-0 record in the 152-pound weight class, which landed him a spot in Saturday’s final against Sam Whiting of Roane County. Whiting, a senior, ultimately posted a 10-5 decision while wrapping up a perfect 44-0 campaign this winter.
Roush, however, was pleased with his overall outcome this weekend — even if it didn’t lead to a state title.
“It means a lot to me to be the first state qualifier for Wahama, and I think last year had a lot to do with it,” Roush said. “Last year, I was nervous and didn’t really know what to expect at the state tournament. This year, I worked harder because I knew what to expect and what it would take to get back here.”
Roush finished sixth last year in the 140-pound weight class with a 3-3 record, which resulted in a 10-point weekend for the White Falcons — good enough for 29th overall as a team. This year, Roush scored 14 of Wahama’s 22 team points and also improved by four spots on the podium. Roush also finished the year with a 29-7 overall mark.
This weekend, like a winter ago, was an event that Roush plans to grow from.
“Again, like last year, I was the youngest kid in my whole bracket, and I gained a lot of valuable knowledge this weekend,” Roush said. “The more experience I can get and the more practice that I have, the better off I’ll be.
“It feels pretty good, honestly, to be a state runner-up, but I am hoping that this experience will make me a better wrestler over the next two years.”
Sophomore Randle Robie also scored eight points for Wahama after going 2-2 overall in the 120-pound weight class. Robie did not finish in the top-six of his first state championship appearance.
That Wahama duo also came up one point short of the school mark set by Perry Ellis in 2005, when the senior scored 23 points en route to a third-place finish.
“We are definitely headed in the right direction,” said WHS coach Ryan Russell. “We’ve done a lot of work in building this program up over the last few years, and we are starting to see some really positive signs from all of the effort. We’re really hoping to keep this moving forward.”
Russell acknowledged that a lot of people have been part of getting this program headed in this direction, rather it be his youth league coaches, the middle school coaches, his assistants, his wife, or even the Point Pleasant program — which has served like a big brother over the last few seasons.
“They’ve been a big help, that’s for sure. Jack Cullen and John Bonecutter have tried help steer us in the right direction when we’ve had questions,” Russell said. “It takes a lot of dedicated people to build something worthwhile, and we feel we are headed in that direction.”
Russell also quickly points out that Wahama’s historical weekend could have been even better with a little luck at regionals. Then again, that’s what next year could very well be.
“We had one qualifier last year and two this year, but we also had four other guys just miss making it to states this weekend. Of those six guys, only one is a senior,” Russell said. “We’re right there knocking on the door as far as getting more kids to this level, but we just need to keep working hard and doing things the right way. If we keep doing that, the results will continue to come.”