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Garcia takes second place; Bucs finish 13th as team at state wrestling tournament

HUNTINGTON – Buckhannon-Upshur’s Liam Garcia earned runner-up honors at the 2023 West Virginia State High School Wrestling Class AAA tournament last weekend in Huntington.

Garcia, competing in the 120-pound weight class, pinned Sebastian Lemon of Hurricane in his opener, won a 3-1 decision over Jacob Perry of Spring Mills in the second round, pinned Ben Barrett of Huntington in the semifinals before dropping a hard-fought match by pin in the title clash to Kai Plinski of Washington.

“Liam capped off a phenomenal season with a run to the state finals,” remarked Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Jacob Orr. “He came up a little short in the end, but man the kid wrestled his tail end off. He had a big match and a solid game plan against Perry that he executed perfectly, and put him on a nice track to get to the finals.”

The Bucs had two other wrestlers place at states as Nathaniel Tyson (106 pounds) and Nathan Cornett (150 pounds) each finished fifth.

Tyson pinned Ethan Pack of Riverside in his first match before losing a 5-0 decision to Corbin Phillips of Parkersburg South. He rebounded to pin Justice Steinmetz of Hampshire and pin Owen Anderson of George Washington but lost an 8-6 decision to Pepper Martin of University. He won the clash for fifth place with a 4-0 decision against Zoey Salmons of Cabell Midland.

Cornett won his opener with a narrow 1-0 decision over Sam Stotler of Spring Mills but dropped a 10-8 decision to  Makiya Powell of Parkersburg South. He came back to win a 5-0 decision over Caleb Kershisnik of Washington and won a 5-3 decision over Ryan Ward of John Marshall. He lost a 12-0 major decision to Hunter Brown of Ripley before coming back to win the fifth-sixth place match with a 3-1 decision over Levi Wiseman of Cabell Midland.

“Nathaniel and Nathan capped off their wrestling careers with fifth-place finishes,” noted Orr. “What Nathaniel has accomplished in the last two years is absolutely unheard of, he’s only wrestled for two years and both years he’s placed in the state tournament. That never happens. Tyson I want to tell you how proud of you I am. I thank you for giving me the chance to work with you. Nathan has been a staple to our program and someone we’ve built our program around. He’s going to be greatly missed. Nathan, it has been an absolute pleasure to work with you over the last four years. The young man I’ve had the opportunity to watch you become is remarkable, and I thank you for allowing me to be a part of that.”

Also competing at states for the Bucs were Ian Cornett (113 pounds), Andrew McDowell (138 pounds), Oscar Blonn (190 pounds) and J.T. Thompson (215 pounds).

“All four of those guys wrestled really well for us as well,” stated Orr. “The boys wrestled well this past weekend, everyone came away with a win or two at least, and with such a young team that’s an accomplishment in itself.”

As a team, the Bucs finished 13th out of 31 squads with 57 points.

Parkersburg South won the team title with 215 points while University was second with 165 points.

“The season is over now, but now is where the work begins,” concluded Orr. “Champions are built in the off season!”

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