MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – The University wrestling team had a fantastic season on the mat with several place winners at the podium at the state meet- but it’s looking to go even bigger this season.

The Covid-10 pandemic definitely had its effects on the high school wrestling season last year. The sport was still able to hold a state tournament and University had six wrestlers place.

The best part about it all? All six of those wrestlers return.

“Well last year we had a very shortened season but we were grateful to have a season. It wasn’t much but we had a state tournament, we had some matches and six state place winners and their all in here right now so that’s a pretty good problem to have,” Ken Maisel, UHS wrestling head coach, said.  

The ‘U’ returns Mason Pauley, Elijah Wellings-Osha, Dakota Hagedorn and Corbin Turney. Each placed somewhere between third through fifth at last year’s state tournament.

Both Luca Felix and Dom Parker fell in their state title match and finished as state runner up.

Maisel said all of his wrestlers are hungry to get back to Huntington.

“There are only 14 people that leave the state tournament happy. Right? There’s only 14 weight classes so there’s really only 14 people that leave happy. So these guys have a little bit extra because they know they had that feeling of I was right there but I didn’t make it so they’ve been working hard to get there this time,” Maisel said.

What prepares the Hawks most for a tough wrestling season is black flag day- one of the most challenging practices during University’s season.

But it shows the wrestlers that they’re able to accomplish anything.

“The other day we had a practice called black flag day. And black flag day is, there is a lot to it, but mostly a really hard practice. Not just physically but mentally. We’re on them, we’re yelling at them, we’re coaching them hard and the point is that when you’re done, you can say okay that was  really hard, I didn’t think I could do it but I did it.  So now when you’re in a match, ‘this is really hard  I don’t know if I can do this  but I remember black flag day, I can do this,'” Maisel said.

Maisel doesn’t want to leave Huntington this year without a state title. He and his Hawks have a tough match this Wednesday against Wheeling Park.

“A state championship. A team state championship. I think there are about five teams that have a possibility to win the state tournament, I think we’re one of them. This Wednesday will be our first big test. Wheeling Park I think might be the best team in the state right now and we’ll wrestle them here in a couple days,” Maisel said.