By Jay W. Bennett (Parkersburg News and Sentinel) for the West Virginia Sports Writers Association
PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Parkersburg South 152-pounder Josh Humphreys has been dominant since the first time he stepped on a wrestling mat.
In his final appearance at the state tournament, he capped off a 168-7 career record by getting a pin in the first period, which secured his fourth state title and made him just the 18th grappler in Mountain State history to accomplish that feat.
Now, the Lehigh University-bound Humphreys has been named the recipient of the 34th annual Robert Dutton Award, presented annually to West Virginia’s most outstanding high school wrestler.
“It’s definitely humbling more than anything,” admitted Humphreys, who won his first state crown at Huntington before winning two more at St. Albans. “It’s definitely an honor.
“I remember my freshman year (2015). Logan Grass got it and he was my practice partner. I thought it was a cool opportunity to have and I’m definitely grateful to get the Dutton Award.”
Humphreys was selected after the Class AAA state tournament, where the Patriots of head coach Shaun Smith won their fourth consecutive team title, as the most outstanding wrestler.
“I told him, I think it was the last day of the state tournament, the pleasure has been all mine,” Smith said of having the chance to coach Humphreys. “He’s such a phenomenal wrestler and it’s been fun getting to know him and his parents.
“He’s a very hard worker in the practice room and to me that is so important. It’s easy, I guess, to be a good wrestler, but to see someone that good have to work at it and the way he takes on every practice, it’s no wonder he’s as good as he is.”
Humphreys edged out Ironman champ and fellow Parkersburg South teammate Braxton Amos, who concluded his sophomore year at 48-0 after winning the 220-pound state title. Three-time state champion Brock Whorton, a senior from East Fairmont, finished third.
“There’s always a progression as the season goes and I think for Josh, the closer and closer it got to the state tournament he got more focused,” added his coach. “I think a lot of the younger guys, especially, saw that and took that on as well.
“We had a lot of young guys perform extremely well at the state tournament and I think a lot of that is contributed to Josh. ”
Currently, Humphreys is still in the mat room a couple times a week and is focused on lifting and continuing to get stronger.
“I was going to go to the NHSCA Duals in May at Virginia Beach, but I found out it’s the same day as graduation,” Humphreys noted.
While his prep career is over and college awaits for him come the middle of July, the Patriot just tries to take things in stride.
“Wrestling has always been a big part of my life,” he said. “I try not to get too big-headed with all that stuff. My first state title was probably the most special to me. It was the first one and I was finally able to say I was a state champ.
“But all four of them have been awesome, don’t get me wrong.”
Humphreys is now the fourth grappler from Parkersburg South to receive the award, joining former Patriots Chad Porter (2006), Jason Johnson (1998) and the inaugural Robert Dutton Award winner Dave Miller (1985).
The Patriot will be presented with his trophy during the 72nd annual Victory Awards Dinner, which will take place at 4 p.m. Sunday, May 6 at the Embassy Suites in Charleston.
The Robert Dutton Award is sponsored by The Parkersburg News and Sentinel and is voted upon by a statewide panel. It’s named in honor of legendary Parkersburg High School mat coach Robert Dutton, who guided the Big Reds from 1957-76 and is a charter member of the W.Va. Chapter of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.