COLUMBUS, Ohio — One program has simply run out of some historical firsts to accomplish at the highest level. The other is hoping to have the same kind of problem by week’s end.
A total of five grapplers from the Ohio Valley Publishing area will be competing this weekend at the 2022 OHSAA Division III Wrestling Championships being held at the Schottenstein Center on the campus of the Ohio State University.
For a fourth consecutive postseason, River Valley will be sending multiple entrants to the state meet — as well as a program-best four qualifiers for a second straight year.
South Gallia is also making its official debut at the state level as the program will be sending its first-ever competitor to the final week of the season.
Between the quintet of qualifiers, only a pair are returning to the state tournament from a year ago — both Raiders.
Senior Will Hash — a 2-time reigning district champion, the only two in RVHS history — will be making his third consecutive state appearance in the 190-pound weight class, while junior Justin Stump is making a second appearance at the highest level in the 157-pound category.
The Silver and Black increase their total of state qualifiers from six to eight this weekend when senior Aiden Greene and junior Michael Conkle participate at the Schott. Conkle will compete at 165 pounds and Greene is entered in the 215-pound division.
Both Conkle and Greene join Hash, Stump, 3-time qualifier Nathan Cadle (2019-21), 2-time qualifiers Zach Davis (2003-04) and Andrew Huck (2020-21), and Eric Weber (2019) as the only River Valley grapplers to advance to the state tournament.
Hash ultimately became the first Raider to win a match at the state level last year while eventually placing seventh at 182 pounds. Huck and Cadle each won a match as well during last year’s tournament at Marion Harding High School, while Stump dropped both of his state bouts at 138 pounds last winter.
The Raiders ended up joining Benjamin Logan, Chalker and Elmwood in a 4-way tie for 45th place as each program produced 12 points at the 2021 tournament. Those dozen points are the only points ever scored by RVHS at the state meet, and therefore serve as the current school record.
Hash enters the weekend with a 45-4 overall mark and Stump takes a 41-8 record into the 3-day event. Conkle is 39-7 this season and Greene owns a 41-8 mark headed into state competition as well.
The Rebels — who are in their sixth year as a varsity program — will be represented at the state meet by junior Reece Butler. Butler — the program’s first-ever sectional champion (2021) — enters the tournament with a 39-11 mark at 126 pounds.
None of the five local grapplers competing this weekend have ever won a match at the Schottenstein Center, an accomplishment last achieved within the area back in 2017 when Gallia Academy senior Kaleb Crisenbery placed eighth in Division II at 145 pounds.
The Division III Championships will be held Friday, Saturday and Sunday, with things scheduled to officially begin at 3 p.m. Friday.
Editor’s Note: This story will appear in the Friday sports editions of the Gallipolis Daily Tribune, Point Pleasant Register and The Daily Sentinel.
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Bryan Walters can be reached at 740-446-2342, ext. 2101.