Spartans' Stone a true student of the game

Feb. 2—To say this is a technological age would be akin to saying everyone likes ice cream.

Count Kaden Stone among those who know how to use what's available to their advantage.

The Greenbrier East sophomore faced an unfamiliar opponent in Skyline (Va.) junior Cody Salomon in the quarterfinals of the WSAZ Invitational last week. Stone dropped a tough 1-0 decision.

As it turned out, Stone got his rematch later that night. A semifinal loss sent Salomon to the consolations, and the two wound up meeting again for third place.

This time, Stone got him. A pin in the third period earned him a third place finish in the state's toughest tournament.

Of course, he picked up some things from their encounter that morning. But help was available elsewhere.

"My mom records every match and then after every match we watch it to see what I can improve on and what the other guy's doing," Stone said.

It's an effective strategy, although the turnaround probably isn't usually as quick as it was last weekend.

"My mindset goes that if you beat me one time, you're going to have to fight like a dog to beat me the second time," Stone said. "That quarterfinal match, (Salomon) was a tough wrestler, but I watched that video and I knew what I needed to do. So I had that mindset that I knew what I needed to do and I did it."

"That strive to win," Spartans head coach Mark Solak said of what that all says of Stone. "He has another gear. He's a kid that, he steps in the circle and he works. He practices hard. And also he finds that extra gear when he steps on the mat."

Stone is a true student of the game, and it shows on the mat. He retained his No. 2 spot at Class AAA 138 pounds in the latest individual state rankings released Friday, and carries a 49-5 record into today's Class AAA West Virginia Dual Team State Championships at the State Fairgrounds in Fairlea.

"He's a wrestler you talk about the minutia with, the little stuff," Solak said. "He really reviews hand placement, shots, what specifically he's doing right and doing wrong. He works on correcting the little things, which is normally unheard of in high school wrestling."

"The team is practicing hard. Each and every day we're improving," Stone said. "Myself personally, I'm improving and working on the little things, trying to beat all the top dogs and make it the best I can be."

Working on the little things and consistently improving involves things that go beyond mat time.

"Just taking time, like the stretching at home," Stone said. "And then getting into the Word of the Bible, praying, talking to God and seeing what His plan is for me and taking it from there. Talking to Him, and improving."

Stone already has 83 career victories in less than two years of high school wrestling. He will face some serious challenges at the state duals, where the Spartans — competing in their hometown — will kick things off with a first round matchup against No. 1 University at noon.

"It's one of the bigger tournaments in the state and we've been practicing hard," Stone said. "It's going to be some great competition, so I'm excited."

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