High school wrestling: Coach believes Winfield is on rise
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Winfield Coach Mike Cochran has seen much improvement from his wrestling team this season.
The Generals, ranked 10th in Class AAA in the WVMat.com poll, feature four wrestlers - Isaac Reed, Chris Cochran, Jimmy Clark and Bryce Humphreys - with State Tournament experience and several others who could make their first trip to the Huntington event next month.
Reed enters this weekend's 43rd annual Pat Vance Invitational at Nitro High School with an 18-1 record and is ranked third at 145 pounds. The field for the two-day event includes Buffalo, Capital, George Washington, Herbert Hoover, Hurricane, Poca, St. Albans and Riverside. Matches begin at 4:30 p.m. today and 9:30 a.m. Saturday.
Reed, one of three seniors for the Putnam County program, was a State Tournament qualifier at 132 pounds last season and placed fourth at 119 pounds in 2011.
"He is stronger this year," Cochran said of Reed. "Last year he was cutting weight and wasn't as strong. He's not doing that this year, and because of that, his confidence is really high. He's wrestling like you would expect a senior to wrestle.
"Isaac has stepped up to be a good team leader for us this year. He's leading by example and pushing the guys. He has them working harder than they were last year."
Chris Cochran, a junior, qualified at 106 pounds in 2012 and 103 pounds in 2011. This season, he has a 15-3 mark and is ranked seventh at 113 pounds. The fifth-year coach said his son's time spent this summer with the Down Under Sports USA wrestling team in Brisbane, Australia helped his technique.
"He used to be sloppy, but the (experience) helped him with his technical moves" the Generals coach said of his son. "He knows what he has to do to try and compete at the top level."
Humphreys was the team's lone place-winner last season, finishing sixth at 120 pounds, while Clark qualified at 160 pounds. Both sophomores, Humphreys has an 18-1 mark and is ranked second at 126 pounds and Clark is 9-1 and is ranked sixth 160 pounds after being sidelined for the first part of the season with a fractured right arm.
"He has worked a lot in the offseason and that's definitely paying off for him now," Cochran said of Humphreys, who spent last July at the USA Nationals in Fargo, N.D., competing in the Greco-Roman and freestyle events. "He has always had a killer instinct and attitude about him, but he's not taking the chances this year like he did last year.
"He's more conservative, but still has an aggressive style about him. He tries not to get himself in trouble as much now."
Other wrestlers on the rise for Winfield include junior Tyler Grimm and sophomores Evan Fairchild and Brent Chapman. Grimm has a 14-4 record and is ranked ninth at 170 pounds, while Chapman, who is in his first year with the Generals after moving from North Carolina, is 4-4 at 285 pounds.
Fairchild has bounced between 132 and 138 pounds for most of the year and opened the season with a 4-3 decision over Huntington sophomore Johnathan Spence, a fifth-place finisher at 120 pounds in 2012.
"He's not a surprise," Cochran said of Fairchild. "He has been wrestling really well and he would have been a state qualifier last year had he not broken his arm."
Cochran expects Fairchild, who has a 15-3 record, to stay at 132 pounds for the remainder of the season.
"He's had a hard time maintaining his weight at 132 pounds and can't make the weight at 138," Cochran said. "It's easier for him to make 134 pounds and he thinks his shot at placing is better at 132 than at 138."
Cochran hopes a competitive schedule will also benefit the Putnam County program. Winfield spent this past Saturday at Pisgah High School in Canton, N.C., competing in the Pisgah Duals. The event featured teams from Georgia, South Carolina and Tennessee. Winfield finished third with a 4-1 record at the 10-team event, earning victories over Northwest Whitfield (Ga.), Mauldin (S.C.), Madison (N.C.) and Smokey Mountain (N.C.) before losing to Pisgah (N.C.).
The Generals also won the Musselman Duals on Dec. 15, with victories over Musselman, Manassas Park (Va.), James Wood (Va.) and Southern Garrett (Md.).
"I wanted a little tougher schedule this year," Cochran said. "We upped the competition to try and get our team to the next level and I think it's going to pay off."
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SISSONVILLE will compete in the Jackson County Invitational at Ravenswood today and Saturday.
The field includes Cabell Midland, Liberty-Raleigh, Ripley, Roane County, St. Marys, Wahama and Wirt County.
Contact sportswriter Jay Fankhauser at firstname.lastname@example.org or 304-348-4871.