WHEELING - The quest for the coveted Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Wrestling Tournament championship has reached its final two rounds.
Plenty of work remains, however, as the 60th annual Ron Mauck OVAC Tournament enters its final day.
For the first time since they've entered the OVAC, the Parkersburg South Patriots are receiving an extremely stiff challenge and one that probably won't be decided until this evening's placement matches.
Buckeye Local’s Sam Ronevich wrestles against Steubenville’s Dakotah Goff during Friday’s quarterfinals.?Ronevich prevailed. Additional images may be found at cu.timesleaderonline.com
Martins Ferry’s Damon Outward controls the head of East Liverpool’s Frankie Williams during their 126-pound quarterfinal Friday night. Outward prevailed by decision.
The Patriots own the overall lead with 163.5 points, while Big Red is chasing with 155.5 points. Wheeling Park is currently third overall with 127 points.
The action begins this afternoon at noon with championship semifinals and consolation matches. The championship finals are a half hour later this year and will start at 7 p.m.
From the immediate area, 10 area wrestlers are still alive for the gold medal hunt, representing five schools.
Shadyside equaled Steubenville for the high number of top seeds and thus far those Tigers are still alive and well in the chase. The Tigers are ninth overall and leading the 1A/2A division by 11 points over Cameron.
Ian Baker (145), Alex Quinn (152) and Chase Kinemond (160) all advanced to the semifinals with ease Friday night.
"I was really happy with how those guys wrestled (in the quarters)," said Shadyside head coach Scott Kinemond. "We had some tough opponents in there, too. But, these kids stepped up like they have all season and we came away with some pins and a tech fall."
Baker advanced to take on Brooke's Jake Schwertfeger, the fifth seed, by virtue of a technical fall against Beaver's Josh Barber, 16-0. Baker pinned Edison's Donnie Roberts in 2:15 in the second round.
Quinn, meanwhile, is seeking a repeat title at 152 pounds and is looking to maintain his perfect record in the process. Now 18-0 on the season, Quinn pinned Buckeye Local's Josh Sokolowski at the 3:28 mark of the match. He had pinned Steubenville Central's Pat Hernon at the 55 second mark in the second round.
Kinemond, who is back in the OVAC Tournament for the first time since reaching the 2011 title bout, is two wins away from his first title. He pinned Caldwell's Caleb VanMeter at the 3:29 mark. He had a tougher time in the second round when he posted a 5-0 decision against Cameron's Devin Starcher.
Next up is a date with fourth-seeded Briar Shively of South. He defeated Steubenville's Andrew Odell, 5-4, in the quarters.
Buckeye Local, which sits in 17th place overall with 50.5 points, has two grapplers in the semifinals this morning.
"We had two five seeds over a four, against future sectional opponents, so those are huge in that regard," said first-year Panthers' head coach Guy Nestor. "Those kids showed the type of intensity tonight that'd been expecting from them. I had been waiting on them to step out on the mat and put on a show for everybody. They did everything we've been working on today."
At 113 pounds, Sam Ronevich will meet top-seeded Lance Hill of Parkersburg South today. Ronevich got to the semifinals with a pin of Bellaire's Mason Hollingshead at the 2:10 mark and then took down fourth-seeded Dakotah Goff of Steubenville, 4-2, in the quarterfinals.
Nathan Kirk punched his ticket to the semifinals when he took down fourth-seeded Anthony Parada of Steubenville in the quarters by a slim 3-2 decision at 132 pounds. In the second round, Kirk was a winner by a technical fall over Steubenville Central's Cuyler Ledyard, 18-2.
"Both Sam and Nate are really good technical wrestlers," Nestor said. "Both looked really good out there tonight. They've got some tough matches (Saturday) against some new people. If they bring the same intensity, there's no reason to think they can't be in the finals."
Kirk's reward is a date with top-seeded and undefeated Scott Lopez of University, who has pinned his first three opponents.
Martins Ferry head coach Scott Roth felt confident coming into the tournament that five of his wrestlers could earn a place in the tournament.
The former Bierkortte Award winner obviously knows his stuff because that's exactly how many Riders remain in the field. Included are a pair of championship semifinalists.
"Basically, it's what I expected to happen," the former state champion Roth said. "We had some guys wrestle well this weekend. We're happy with two in the semifinals. Overall, I'm satisfied with it. There's work to be done, but the pressure (of earning a place) is off for these guys."
Senior standout Damon Outward is on the cusp of his first OVAC final. The third-seed at 126 pounds has been impressive in his three matches. After reaching the quarters with a technical fall against Morgantown's Seth Gribble by a 19-4 score, he had a date with East Liverpool's Frankie Williams, who earned his 100th career win on Thursday.
Outward, who earned his 100th career win earlier this month, notched a victory by a 5-2 count over Williams.
"I felt like I was able to wrestle my match," Outward said. "I just have to go into the semifinals with the same mindset, have some fun and wrestle my match again. Being in the semifinals is so awesome. My family has been with me the whole time. Parts of my high school career have been a rough ride, but my family has allowed me to keep it as smooth as possible and I am thankful for that."
Senior Zac Coole earned a trip to the semifinals and avenged a loss from earlier this season in the process. The Riders' 220 pounder took down River's J.D. Dotson, 3-1, in overtime to advance to the semifinals.
En route to the quarters, Coole decisioned Morgantown's Cody Maurin, 8-2.
Coole's next challenge is the top-seeded in Steubenville's Greg Moray, who has three pins in the tournament in a combined 2:40 of mat time.
St. Clairsville, which finds itself in 11th overall and trailing only Big Red in the Class 4A standings, also has two in the championship semifinals.
Both of the Red Devils' semifinalists earned second seeds prior to the tournament.
Senior 285 pounder Corey Ernest and senior 160 pounder Dalton Nolte are in the 'Final 4' of the tournament.
"We've been hot and cold this weekend, but when we're hot, we've been really hot," said Red Devils' head coach Joel Sansone. "I hate Friday night (at the OVAC) because there are too many nerves. When we go out and force our offense, that's when we win. We need to continue to press the issue. I really like the draws for Corey and Dalton. We've never wrestled either kid, and when we see fresh faces, it's just like blood in the water."
Ernest has pinned his way to the semifinals and didn't need much time in doing so on Friday. He got past Toronto's Tim West in just 35 seconds. In the quarters, he stuck Magnolia's Alex Newman in 26 ticks.
He'll now take on third-seeded Ryan Wood of Big Red, who dispatched third-seeded Preston Wise of Brooke to the consolation bracket in the quarters.
Nolte, meanwhile, got to the semifinals by virtue of a pin of Meadowbrook's Richard Ramge in the second round and then a major decision against University's Nick Fisher by a 13-5 count.
Nolte will take on Wheeling Park's Danny Colby in the semifinals. Colby was a winner against Cambridge's Dillon Sunnafrank, the third seed, in the quarters.
Barnesville, which trails River in the 3A team standings, has one semifinalist.
Freshman dandy Hobie Howiler was impressive in earning two more victories Friday en route to a meeting with second-seeded Matthew Beaman of Brooke today in the 120-pound semifinals.
Howiler was a winner by technical fall over Bellaire's Austin Hollingshead in the second round and then took down Beaver Local's Jason Keyes by pin at the 2:40 mark of the match.
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