Warren County was the gathering spot of the best of the best middle school wrestlers in the Midstate this weekend. The CTWC championships were held at WCHS and many of the top wrestlers just happened to be Pioneers.
Warren County Middle School had six individual medalists in Saturday’s individual tourney, then came back to finish third in the team tournament held Sunday. The Pioneers also had the third-highest point total of the 22 teams represented in the individual tournament as well.
Anden Green won his weight class Saturday, while Huck Damon and Eddie Ramirez were third-place finishers. Jakoby Odineal, Preston McAbee and Colton Gater rounded out the medalists with fourth-place finishes.
“This season has arguably been the highlight of my career,” said Matheney, who has led the WCMS wrestling program since 2015. “When I took over, there were nine teams in the conference and 89 wrestlers. We placed sixth. Now, we had 22 teams in the championship, 220 wrestlers and we finished third.
“I hae had some very tough and successful groups since I took over, but this one is very special.”
Warren County did major damage in the team matchups Sunday, smashing Oakland 53-27 early and finishing the day with wins against Algood (60-24) and Siegel (54-35). The Pioneers’ lone loss came to Stewarts Creek (49-27), where three close falls in the final minute of grueling matches all went the Redhawks’ way. Stewarts Creek went on to win the championship.
It didn’t take long for Matheney to recognize this team had what it took to be great on the mat. The Pioneers proved it daily once practice started.
“What makes this group different is the work in practice and the grit of the entire group. When you have to fill 15 weight classes, you need to be tough in every one to be competitive (as a team),” said Matheney. “This is one of the only years I’ve been able to fill every class and every single wrestler we put on the mat put us in a position to have success.”
With the sport seemingly being on the rise at every level in Warren County – the high school team is dominating competition and local AAU programs have been claiming state awards the past 2-3 years – Matheney believes only one more thing needs to happen to take the Pioneers to the next level.
“What we need is more wrestlers participating in our wrestling program at all levels. Competition in the wrestling room is going to be our next step toward competing to be the best overall program in the entire state,” said Matheney. “The old saying is everyone wants to be a winner and if young people want to be a winner in Warren County, I think wrestling is as good a place to look as anywhere.”