Things should be interesting when the Class AA/A, Region IV wrestling tournament gets underway at 11 a.m. Saturday in Mt. Zion.
Host Calhoun County has four top-seeded wrestlers and a trio of No. 2 seeds, but veteran head coach Mike Stump isn't ready to declare the Red Devils as the team to beat.
"It would be nice," said Stump of his fifth-ranked squad winning the regional crown. "But, who knows how it will finish. Funny things happen and they usually do. I'm not counting my chickens here.
"There are a lot of other wrestlers out there along with ours who want to go to state. It's always a dogfight in our regional and it's always been that way. It's not going to be any easier this weekend."
Clay County topped Wirt County (218.5-215) to win the regional title last year, but the Panthers and Tigers aren't having the same success this winter. Although the Red Devils have 10 wrestlers competing who are all seeded in the top four, Roane County has a dozen grapplers and is ranked sixth in the latest team poll. Of the Raiders' 12 grapplers, only half are expected to qualify. The region also boasts No. 9 Williamstown and No. 10 Herbert Hoover.
"I think it's a four team race," added Stump, who has No. 1 seeds with Allen Metheny (106, 42-4), Houstin McCune (120, 40-5), Casey Ritchie (138, 27-5) and Cole Ritchie (145, 43-5).
"Sissonville has a few kids who are really good wrestlers. Wahama has some quality kids. They just don't have enough of them. It's just hard for someone with limited numbers to compete for any kind of a (team) title."
Roane County's top seeds are Cam Moore (37-3) at 113 and Luke Scott (28-8) at 160.
Wahama actually has a trio of expected regional champions in Jacob Bennett (126, 36-5), Kane Roush (170, 27-1) and 195-pounder Demetrius Serevicz (23-7).
Two wrestlers - Williamstown's Jake Tracewell (152, 3-0) and Clay County's Tyler Stewart (182, 4-0) - are undefeated and have No. 1 seeds. Joining Tracewell as an expected regional champion is Yellowjacket teammate Dalton George. The 132-pound senior is 29-2 and is seeking a third career individual state wrestling title.
Twice beaten Zane Weese of Herbert Hoover, who has 30 wins, is the top seed at 220. The other No. 1 seed is Buffalo heavyweight Jacob Moore (37-4).
The Region II tournament at Keyser features Little Kanawha Conference member Braxton County. The Eagles' highest seed is a No. 2 from 170-pounder Bryson Dennison.
In Region I, which like Region II will start on Friday, several area teams will be on hand at Fairmont Senior as Ritchie County, Magnolia, Tyler Consolidated, St. Marys and Doddridge County will try and place wrestlers in the top four to qualify for the state tournament in Huntington.