Garcias win state wrestling titles for Buckhannon-Upshur

HUNTINGTON – The brother-sister duo Liam Garcia and Maya Garcia made history for the Buckhannon-Upshur wrestling Buccaneers at the West Virginia State High School Championships last weekend.

Both Garcias won state championships in their respective weight classes, becoming the first brother-sister duo to win titles in the same season.

Liam capped off his senior season with a title in the 120-pound division after finishing runner-up at states last season while Maya, a sophomore, won the 132-pound title in the girls’ division.

Liam won his first two matches by pin, defeating Robert Fugate of Greenbrier East in his opening match then Isaac Wiseman of Cabell Midland. He won an 8-2 decision over Cade Staats from Parkersburg South and then in the championship match, he won a 7-3 decision over No 1 ranked Kai Plinski from Washington, who defeated him last year for the title.

Garica finished his career placing at states all four years.

“Liam is one of the very few four-time state placement wrestlers in Buckhannon Upshur history,” stated Buckhannon-Upshur head coach Jacob Orr. “I’ve only had one other in the time that I’ve been here as head coach. His journey to the state finals started 365 days ago from Saturday night when he lost that same exact match to the same exact kid. Liam promised himself it wouldn’t happen again and he did just that. He also dominated his way through the state tournament and didn’t stop in the state championship match. He executed probably one of the most perfect matches I’ve ever seen and did exactly what he was supposed to do, and he absolutely dominated the kid.”

Maya was dominate in all four of her matches recording a pin in all of them.

She defeated Miya Johnson of Tyler Consolidated in the first round and Jayden Powers of Doddridge County in the second round. In the semifinals, she downed Morganne Miller of East Hardy and then in the title match, she pinned Jurnee Vroble of Washington.

“Maya dominated her way through the entire tournament,” noted Orr.

The Garcias weren’t the only Buccaneers to shine at the state tournament as three finished with runner-up honors.

Ian Cornett took runner-up honors in the 113-pound weight class.

He won three of his matches by pin, downing Kayden Maynard of Spring Valley in his opening match, beating Caleb Springstead of Washington in  the second round and Cole Smith of Parkersburg South in the semis. In the title match, he came across the top-ranked wrestler in his class, Garrett Johnson of Woodrow Wilson, and suffered an 8-0 major decision loss.

“Cornett had a fantastic tournament as well and dominated his way to the championship finals,” remarked Orr. “In the finals he ran into Johnson from Woodrow Wilson, who was the returning state champ from last year and he battled and fell short, but for a kid that’s only been wrestling for three years that is incredibly impressive.”

On the girls‘ side, Bri Howes at 114 pounds and Emma McGinnis at 165 pounds both took second place.

Howes beat Anisty Vince of Logan in her opener by pin and Ava Lemasters of Cameron in the second round by pin. In the title match, she lost by fall to Anniya Powell of Parkersburg South.

McGinnis won a 5-2 decision over Anaston Carouthers of Wirt in her opener but was pinned by top seed Kaylie Hall of Hampshire in the championship match.

Back on the boys’ side, Andrew McDowell placed fifth in the state tournament for the Bucs in the 138-pound division with a 4-2 mark.

He won a 12-3 major decision in his opener against Avery Holland of Riverside but lost in the second round by a narrow 4-2 decision to Garrin Arthur of Huntington. He came back to earn pins over Eli Derr of St. Albans and Blake Messick of Spring Mills before dropping a 5-2 decision to Kaden Stone of Greenbrier East. He won the battle for fifth place with a fall over Cam Good from Ripley.

“McDowell wrestled incredibly well in his quarterfinals match,” stated Orr. “He lost a close match to the Huntington kid and bounced back after that loss and fought his way to a fifth-place finish. He ran into a kid from Spring Mills, who had beaten him earlier in the year twice. The first time he handled us pretty well. The second time we closed the gap we knew that we had them this time and Andrew absolutely dominated him from the first whistle until the mat was slapped.”

Oscar Blonn finished in the top eight with a 2-2 record in the 215-pound division.

“Blonn, in his senior season and only a second trip to the state tournament in four years, made his mark by going 2-2 and had quite the opening match,” noted Orr. “In his opening match, he got tossed from his feet to his back instead of giving up and accepting defeat, he fought like crazy ripping a part of his earlobe, and causing blood to pour out of his headgear, refused to get pinned reversed as opponent and pinned them all in the first period.”

Jeremiah Thompson went 1-2 in the 175-pound division while Jeremy Jett lost two close decisions (7-5 and 4-3) in his first appearance at states.

“Jett battled in both of his matches but ended up falling short going 0-2 and Thompson went 1-2, but he probably got the most fantastic compliment from a competitor. His opening match opponent defeated him by technical fall, but told him, “Even though I was beating the crap out of the kid. I felt like I was losing the entire match. He wouldn’t stop coming at me.”

As a team, the Bucs finished an impressive ninth with just six wrestlers competing with 76 points.

University won the state title in Class AAA with 204. 5 points while Parkersburg South was second with 193 points and Woodrow Wilson was third with 166.5 points.

The three ladies’ impressive finishes landed Buckhannon-Upshur in a tie for fourth place on the girls’ side with Spring Valley with 62 points.

“I am proud of all three,” remarked Orr. “Howes came up just a little bit short and finished as state runner-up, Garcia dominated her way through the entire tournament and then Emma McGinnis, a first-year wrestler, defeated a girl that had beaten her earlier in the year, and in the semifinals to punch her ticket to the championship finals. In the championship match, it was an uphill battle, facing off with the girl who won a national tournament this year. She wrestled hard and fought, but also came up short.”

Parkersburg South claimed the girls’ title with 93 points while Liberty-Raleigh was second with 88.5 and Musselman was third with 64.

“We only entered three girls in the inaugural girls’ state wrestling meet and all three of those young ladies battled their way into the championship finals,” said Orr. “We finished ahead of teams that had a full line-up or close to a full line-up.”

Orr said the state tournament was a great three days for Buccaneer wrestling.

“This year‘s state tournament was awesome,” concluded Orr. “The story that these kids wrote this year was like one that I’ve never experienced since I’ve been here coaching. The fact that everyone underestimated them, and no one expected them to do anything did not bother them. They absolutely showed up every single one of them.”

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