The Ohio Valley Athletic Conference has always had a strong tradition at the Ohio High School Athletic Association's state wrestling tournament.
More than 60 OVAC grapplers have stood high atop the podium following the championship finals, while three teams have reigned supreme - Bridgeport in 1959 and 1988 and Cadiz in 1987.
The Bulldogs lead the way with 13 individual state titlists, while Shadyside moved to within two of their rivals after Alex Quinn captured the Division III 152-pound crown last winter.
No wrestler from the Ohio Valley has ever won four coveted state titles (there are currently 25 members in that prestigious club), but Union Local heavyweight Koel Davia captured three straight from 2002-04.
St. Clairsville has the distinction of having 23 all-time state placewinners, but not a champion. That ranks them third behind Oregon Clay (30) and Carrollton (24). The Red Devils have had four state runnersup.
The aforementioned Quinn is featured on the cover of this year's state tournament program. He is shown raising his hands after winning his state title.
Barnesville Referee Honored
James Crosier is one of six Ohio Wrestling Officials Association 2014 Hall of Fame Inductees. He has been a presence in wrestling in the eastern district for more than 40 years. He graduated from Steubenville High School in 1967 and graduated from Ohio University in 1971 and became the head wrestling coach at Union Local High School. As a member of the Ohio Valley wrestling officials, he worked sectional and district tournaments over a span of 29 years. He retired after 40 years as an educator. He has two sons, Brian (Amy) with 3 grandchildren, Collin, Luke and Abby, and Fritz (Teresa) with 3 grandchildren, Regan, Nash and Quinn. Jim was married for 41 years to his wife Deborah, who tragically passed away in 2013.
SJC Graduate on Hartley Staff
Former St. John Central wrestler Justin Hepe is an assistant coach at Columbus Bishop Hartley. The Hawks won the Division III Heath District team title last weekend. They have four state qualifiers.
Former Purple Rider to be on Hand
Doug Curnes, a former Martins Ferry and West Liberty standout wrestler, will be attendance this weekend. He is now the head coach at Troy High School and has a Division I entrant in 285-pound senior Alex Dalton.
Coming up Just Short
Finishing fifth in the sectional or district tournament means a wrestler is the "alternate" in case one of the top four in that respective weight class cannot, for any type of reason, compete.
That was where Shadyside freshman Josh Kahl found himself last weekend after the Division III Heath District concluded its two days of action. On the outside looking in.
The 120-pounder advanced to the championship semifinals before losing his first match. That bumped him to the consolation semifinals and one victory from an assured ticket to Columbus.
Facing a familiar foe in Sandy Valley senior Joe Newman, Kahl held a 5-2 lead in the third period when the scoreboard clock on the wall inside the Activities Center being used for the important bout suddenly stopped working. However, from my position matside, I saw the clock operator at the table tell the second referee that he had things under control. With fans from all around the jam-packed gymnasium yelling and screaming about the clock not working, the match continued.
Newman, who was a returning state qualifier and had lost to Kahl twice this season, made it 5-4 and then got two back points for a 6-5 lead as time wound down.
When the referee signaled the match was over, no one was really sure who had won because none of Newman's points had been registered at the table. Both head coaches met the referees at the table and a lengthy discussion ensued.
While Shadyside head coach Sean Grinch pleaded his case, Kahl sat helplessly on the mat. After a delay of some 15 minutes in which Grinch was seen browsing through his rule book, it was decided that Newman was the winner by a 7-5 count, leaving Kahl as the "alternate."
"I feel so bad for Josh," Grinch said during Saturday's Heath District finals. "Nobody was sure what was going on. I'm proud that he came back to get fifth."
Something tells me that Kahl will reach the state level at one point in his career, maybe twice or three times.
OVAC Wrestlers in Columbus
There are seven OVAC matmen involved in the D-II tournament, including two from Beaver Local, Meadowbrook and Steubenville, and one from East Liverpool.
The Beavers entered are junior Daniel Hasson (41-4 at 138) and senior Cody Martsolf (35-12 at 285). Hasson is a repeat qualifier.
The Big Reds are sophomores Tariq Wilson (46-1 at 113) and Shawn Livingston (39-11 at 145). Wilson finished sixth last year at 106 and is a two-time Ron Mauck OVAC Tournament champion.
The Colts include the Jenkins brothers, Tyler (126) and Bailey (145). Tyler, a junior, is 45-7 and won the Ron Mauck OVAC Tournament in January, while Bailey, a sophomore, is 43-10 and finished second at OVACs.
However, the younger Jenkins might have drawn the toughest first-round match in the tournament. He is paired with St. Paris Graham senior Micah Jordan who is seeking his fourth straight state title. Jordan is an impeccable 183-9 in his four years, including a perfect 44-0 this year. He was won titles at 119, 126 and 132. Should Jordan prevail, he would be the fourth member of his family (brother Bo, father Jeff and uncle Jim) to win four state titles.
Seeking a Fourth Title
Dayton Christian's Jacob Danishek, who is 39-0 this year and a superb 182-5 in his career is looking for his fourth championship. His titles have come at 112, 132 and 145.