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Every wrestling team aspires to win their conference tournament. This year, the West Liberty High School (WLHS) wrestling team made that dream a reality. However, that does not stand out as their biggest accomplishment to date. The WLHS wrestling team has won the River Valley Conference (RVC) tournament for the past five seasons, making them a local wrestling legend.
A look at the scores from the tournament on Saturday, January 26th, reveal just how decisively the WLHS wrestling team dominated their competition. Overall, the WLHS wrestlers earned 215 points, allowing them to beat out thirteen other schools to take top honors.
Individually, many WLHS wrestlers placed in the top three for their weight class. Junior Will Esmoil in the 145-pound weight class won his third conference title by beating top ranked Chase Luensman of Monticello High School 7-5. Senior Coy Ruess in the 152-pound weight class also won his third conference title by beating tenth ranked Cade Everson of Camanche 4-2. Sophomore Alex Beaver, junior Talen Dengler, senior Austin Beaver, and sophomore Kobe Simon all earned second place in their respective weight classes. Rounding out the top three finishes, sophomore Sam Gingerich and senior AJ Lenz both earned third place finishes.
After their historic victory, WLHS head wrestling coach Ian Alke could not have felt better about the team’s performance. He elaborated, “the team wrestled very well considering we had nearly a week without practice [due to] weather and school cancellations. I think their results show wrestling has a tough schedule and [participating in] high level competition each week really prepared them for this tournament. I’m proud of their efforts individually and the total team effort to earn a championship.” Alke also felt elated to have worked with this remarkable team. “West Liberty has never won five consecutive conference tournaments before, so accomplishing this will go into the West Liberty Wrestling history books. I think the kids can really be proud of what they accomplished and one day look at the conference banner in the West Liberty Gym and say they were a part of that. I’m lucky to be a part of this program.”
With the regular season over, Alke looks forward to continue to improve each wrestler’s conditioning and positions ahead of the upcoming state wrestling tournament. Knowing that his wrestlers consistently score many points and have strong offense skills, he feels confident many WLHS athletes will make it to state, adding even more honors to this year’s historic season.

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