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Tazewell Co. grapplers prepare for VHSL state wrestling tournament

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(WVVA) - The Class 2 VHSL state wrestling tournament has been moved to Monday, February 22. But, the good news for all the competitors, is that it's going to happen at all.

Nothing has been a sure thing this season.

"You know -- in November or October -- I didn't think we were going to have a season," Graham head coach Ben Fritz said.

But, a good amount of schools in the Commonwealth did -- including Graham -- who will send three wrestlers to compete for state titles.

It was a shortened season, with participants wrestling between ten and 20 matches instead of 40 or 50. But, the G-Men say it hasn't impacted their preparation for a shot at the ultimate prize.

"We've practiced as hard as we can every day," Graham junior Zach Blevins said. "The lack of matches -- we should be fine. We've still gotten the right amount of mat time in."

Teammate Justin Fritz knows a little bit about being a state champion. In fact -- it's all he's known. He's finished the year with a Class 2 championship in each of his first three seasons.

As a senior, he's looking to go out on top.

"It would mean the world to me -- it's what I've always worked for," Justin said.

"He's past what his dad can teach him at this point," Ben chuckled. "We've never had a four-time state champion here -- never had a three-time. It would be an amazing feat."

Down in Richlands, the Blue Tornado are hungry for some hardware, as well.

"Just come out on top at the end -- that's the best goal for anybody," Richlands freshman Brenden Phillips said.

Above all, they're just thankful for the opportunity.

"You never knew at the beginning of the season whether or not we'd get to go to state or if the season would get cut off a couple weeks in," Richlands senior Noah Spencer said. "Like me, this being my last chance to go out and wrestle -- I'm happy we get to have the tournament."

The Blues are sending five qualifiers to the state tournament -- a feat head coach Frank Daugherty says speaks volumes about his team.

"The kids never lost focus -- I guess you could say eye on the prize," he said. "I think they just kept pushing. They've done well -- they've managed to get through this craziness in pretty good shape."

Tazewell's Josh Herndon will also be wrestling for a state title in the heavyweight class.

WVVA will have coverage of the Class 2 state wrestling tournament on Monday.

Nick Dugan

Sports Director

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