WHEELING - There aren't many events that the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference puts on that aren't done in a first-class manner.
But, each and every January, it seems like there's something that separates the Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Tournament from the conference's other events.
And that something isn't just one thing you can single out or put your finger on ... not even for the good of this column.
Regardless if it's the competition, the pageatry or even the people who help orchestrate the massive three-day event, the tournament just has a special feel every year.
If I had to choose just one part, it would be the level of importance the tournament holds to the wrestling community of the Ohio Valley. That importance goes well beyond the fact that it's a conference tournament.
Kids entering pee-wee wrestling programs all over the Ohio Valley dream of one day having their arm raised in two places. Whether it's in Columbus or Huntington, every wrestler wants his arm raised as a state champion.
Close on its heels, however, is the OVAC Championship. After that, everything else is gravy.
There is plenty of season left after tonight's championship round, regardless of finish, but the 14 young men who will have their arm raised as an OVAC champion will etch their names into Ohio Valley history.
Some of the best wrestlers of all time in the Ohio Valley, who won a respective state title, didn't win an OVAC title. I've talked to some of them and it bothers them.
Just the idea of having a wrestler from a small school like Beallsville defeat a wrestler from a school as big as Wheeling Park simply adds to the mystique.
Another big part of what makes the OVAC Tournament one of the premier events in the nation are the people and the organization.
Earlier in the week, Doyle announced that it was the first time that he could remember that there was nary a change to the brackets, spellings or records from the seed meeting to the public announcement of them.
Why be surprised?
The tournament has been able to make strides to that because of its willingness to adapt to the technology that's available.
Many of the folks who spend three days at the tournament whether it's as a worker or volunteer, have been here for many years in exactly the same job they held when they first started. However, I'm guessing many of those people aren't into social media, email or much technology further than a flip phone.
However, the OVAC wrestling staff - which is spearheaded by Doyle and Ron Mauck, for whom the event is named - has done an outstanding job of continuing to get 'younger' folks involved.
That's important, not only from a technology standpoint, but from the point of view that eventually guys like Doyle or Mauck might want to step aside from their roles.
If that does come, which we're hopeful isn't for many, many more years, they can relax and rest easy knowing the event is in good hands.
The wrestling community of the Ohio Valley is a tight-nit group, including guys who've competed and coached in the area.
None want to see the OVAC Tournament lose any of its luster, which is plenty of motivation to stay active and involved.
Because of how important it is to the kids, the OVAC Tournament will never lose its luster.
Remember, when it comes to high school sports - and the OVAC - the kids are the top priority.