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This week’s column subject is a local sports organization which is affiliated with a sport which doesn’t get a great deal of coverage, amateur wrestling.

The Panther Attack Wrestling Club was started by PikeView High School wrestling coach William Miller last fall to help grow amateur wrestling in the area.

“When I started at PikeView High School last fall, one of my goals was to start a youth wrestling organization in the area,” Miller, who also serves as the club’s director, said.

The club, which has 12 members currently and is open to make and female participants from grades K-12, started competition this past spring.

“Our first meet was in March. We participated in the Henry Miller Open at University High School in Morgantown. Mackenzie Miller finished third in the girls 6 and under 75-pound class and Keyshawn Phillips finished fifth in the 164-pound class,” he said.

The next event, the “Escape The Pen” meet at the West Virginia Penitentiary at Moundsville saw eight members: Miller, Marcus Matney, Gavin Kime, Gabe Cantrell, Chase Cantrell, Corey Jarrells, Sam Freeman and Trace Hatfield, compete. Matney finished second in the 285-pound category, Kime fourth in the 145-pound category and Miller third in the six-and-under 80-pound class.

“My biggest goal is growing the sport of wrestling in this area. A lot of kids don’t have basketball to play . I want to help develop a feeder program for high schools and develop middle school programs . Also, provide a positive experience in an atmosphere of good sportsmanship and character,” Miller said.

Matney, the Cantrells and Miller competed in the Bootleggers National on June 4 in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. Matney finished second in the 285-pound class. Gabe Cantrell third in the 170-pound class. Miller finished third in the eight-and-under girls class and second in the six-and-under boys and girls class.

As for the rest of the season, Miller said they would be competing tomorrow at Greenbrier East’s Spartan Stadium in the “Under The Lights” meet and would compete in the Virginia Commonwealth Games at Lynchburg’s Liberty University on June 29.

The PAWC is a USA Wrestling organization and a member of the West Virginia Youth Wrestling Association.

The club practiced at the Melrose School gym until renovations forced them to move to the PVHS gym.

Next year, there will be two seasons: A November through February one and a March through June one.

The club can be reached on Facebook, by calling 304-922-5662 or at coach_d.miller@yahoo.com.

Jeff Harvey is a freelance reporter and columnist for the Princeton Times. Contact him at delimartman@yahoo.com.

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