Steubenville off to strong start at Park Duals

”You can always be better.”

That’s the mantra Steubenville coach Mike Blackburn is preaching to his team as it makes its way through the rugged Wheeling Park Duals.

Big Red stands at 4-0 heading into the final day of the 40-team event at WesBanco Arena and is poised to make plenty of noise in the 22nd annual prep wrestling showcase.

”It’s great to be 4-0 in this tournament,” Blackburn said Wednesday, moments after polishing off previously unbeaten Parkersburg.

”Am I totally happy? I don’t think we wrestled our best (Wednesday), for sure. We have to come back and see what we have (today).”

Steubenville is one of four undefeated squads entering today’s action, which got under way at 9 a.m. The others are Butler, Maple Heights and Parkersburg South – the two-time defending champion.

”You have some great teams here,” Blackburn said. ”This is definitely a measuring stick for us.”

Big Red won three matches to win their division and then faced another Big Red squad – the one from Parkersburg – in their first record placement match.

Devin Brown rallied for a 13-9 victory in the 106-pound contest, and Steubenville cruised from there to post a 40-16 triumph.

”Parkersburg is a really good team,” Blackburn said. ”We had some big comeback wins and they had some big comeback wins. It was definitely a good match.”

At the same time the two Big Red teams were battling, a pair of West Virginia unbeatens were squaring off the next mat over.

Point Pleasant, the defending Class AA-A champ, and Parkersburg South, the reigning Class AAA winner, stayed close for a while, but in the end, Coach Paul Jackson’s club was too much, winning 36-18.

The Patriots picked up another victory later, hammering Woodward, 62-10, to knock the Georgia school from the ranks of the unbeaten.

Parkersburg South and Steubenville fought in the championship match two years ago. Blackburn hopes his team, which is 10-0 in dual matches this season, can make it there again.

”The main thing is to get as much experience as possible,” he said. ”That’s why we’ve wrestled against tough teams so the guys can get some exposure to good matches.

”Hopefully, that will prepare us for what we’ll see (Thursday).”

John Marshall made it through the initial rounds perfect, but fell to Butler, 53-15, in the final match of the day. Butler will open today’s action against Steubenville.

Wheeling Park second in its division and, once in its pool of second-place finishers, topped fellow OVAC foe University, 45-18.

Brooke, meanwhile, also finished second in its division, but fell to North Marion and Hopewell once paired with fellow second-place squads.

University went 3-2 on the day, while Indian Creek, Buckeye Local, Bellaire and Morgantown went 0-4.