By Carl Holcomb
Moorefield Examiner –
Moorefield sophomore Wil Schoonover entered the 67th Annual WVSSAC State Wrestling Tournament in Huntington with an undefeated record as the Region II champion, but was knocked short of his title hopes losing to the top-ranked wrestler in the 182-lb. weight class and finished third overall.
Schoonover had the second best showing among all of the Region II wrestling representatives, but will have to wait another year to fight for the championship.
“It’s wrestling, you win some, you lose some. He’s got two more years,” Moorefield Coach Larry Schoonover stated.
The battle for excellency began Thursday night with 528 grapplers on 264 matches competing on eight mats for state title dreams at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena.
“It’s pretty cool being out here, being the lone Moorefield wrestler representing my town. I’m proud to be here. My goal was to be a three time defending state champion, but I fell short of that. Next year I will work harder and try to win the first state championship for Moorefield,” Moorefield grappler Wil Schoonover remarked.
Schoonover’s first round match was against Greenbrier West junior Tristen Kessler.
Schoonover made a quick statement of dominance with his signature double-leg takedown and a cross-face cradle for a pin in just 24 seconds for the victory [one of his fastest finishes of the year].
“I knew that guy wasn’t very good in the first round. I went out there and got the pin to save my energy,” Wil Schoonover noted.
The taste of a state championship was only three wins away at this point.
Experienced wrestlers typically have the advantage and the state quarterfinal opponent for Schoonover was Cameron senior Waylon Miller.
The championship quarterfinals started at 11:30 a.m. on Friday with a total of 112 matches and the first two consolation rounds consisted of 224 matches.
Miller had defeated Patrick Berry of Ravenswood in a pin at 3:41 to setup this match.
Schoonover got early takedowns with a double-leg takedown and a lateral lift takedown.
Miller managed an escape in the second period and got a takedown with ten seconds left in the third.
Schoonover won in a 6-3 decision.
“That guy was a hoss. He was pretty strong. I went out there and used my speed, speed kills. I got takedowns and got away,” Wil Schoonover said.
The championship semifinals were held on Friday evening.
Schoonover, ranked second in the state (35-0), faced top-ranked Nicholas County senior Jake Tyler (37-1) in the state championship semifinals.
Tyler placed second in the state tournament last year in the 170-lb. weight division.
The wrestling format came down to four mats with a total of 56 championship semifinal matches and 56 third round consolation matches.
Tyler was a taller wrestler than Schoonover and was able to use his arm length to get better positioning.
Schoonover wrestled more conservatively, trying to get through with limited mistakes against such a talented wrestler.
Both grapplers locked up tight early and skirted out of bounds twice.
Schoonover pulled Tyler down along the outer circle, but his foot was deemed out so there were no points awarded.
Both tangled to the mat as the buzzer sounded, but no points were reached.
Schoonover got his arms wrapped around Tyler to start the second period, but the momentum carried out of bounds.
Tyler got an escape, then Schoonover made a good hold on the mat without points.
The two locked up again, then both went out.
Tyler made a shooting attempt and both grapplers landed out.