OHSAA?team wrestling tourney opens this week

The first Ohio High School Athletic Association tournament of the winter sports season is set to commence.

The second annual team wrestling championship – or state duals – gets under way Wednesday evening with regional action.

The tournament will resume the following Wednesday (Jan. 29) with the regional semifinals and finals with that winner advancing to the state tournament, which will once again be held at St. John Arena on the campus of The Ohio State University on Saturday, Feb. 9.

The tournament isn’t mandatory since some schools don’t have enough wrestlers on the team to be competitive in a dual since every forfeit is worth six points.

Thus, the state made the tournament optional and didn’t cost the schools any of their alotted points, so, in essence, they’re free matches.

Only eight area teams have opted to take part in the tournament. They’ll compete in Division II and III.

The seeding and bracketing was done through an online voting system and the host sites were awarded to the highest seeds in the respective regional breakdowns.

In Division III, area teams will compete in Region 20 with the majority of the squads in Region 20-B.

In Region 20-A, Harrison Central will host a bracket as the third seed.

The Huskies find themselves in the opposite half of the bracket from Massillon Tuslaw, which is the defending Division III state team tournament runnerup.

“I think the tournament is going to be very tough,” said Harrison Central head coach Bill Bryant. “Tuslaw is the opposite side, but I think our half is tougher.”

According to Bryant, some of the teams may have been underseeded because some coaches didn’t submit info and vote.

“That really penalized a couple of teams,” Bryant said. “We will have to be ready to wrestle. We’re going to be short of a full lineup, so bonus points will be a must.”

The Huskies will take on sixth-seeded Steubenville Catholic Central, which is one of those teams that Bryant feels didn’t get the respect it deserved.

The opening bout of that region is Canton Central Catholic taking on Tuscarawas Valley with that winner advancing to face second-seeded Sandy Valley.

Belpre was voted the top seed in Region 20-B and will host a site.

The Eagles will face the winner of St. Clairsville (8th seed) and Albany Alexander (9th seed). The other match in that half of the bracket pits fourth-seeded River against fifth-seeded Barnesville.

Caldwell is the second seed and it will host a site as well. The Redskins will take on the winner of Union Local and Waterford.

Shadyside, which advanced to the regional championship before falling to Amanda Clearcreek last year, will take on the survivor of Martins Ferry and West Muskingum as the third seed.

“We were seeded right where I thought we would be,” said first-year Tigers head coach Sean Grinch. “Our goal is to try to get to the semifinals, but it won’t be easy though. We know both Martins Ferry and West Muskingum have some tough kids in their lineup, so it’s going to come down to matchups and momentum.”

Buckeye Local is the lone local Division II team. The Panthers will be at Claymont, which advanced to the Division II state final last year before falling to St. Paris Graham.

The Panthers are the ninth seed and will take on Edison with that winner advancing to face the Mustangs.

West Holmes and Dover are the other teams in the Panthers’ half of the bracket.

Steubenville is the third seed and will host a bracket. Big Red faces sixth-seeded River View and the winner will face the winner of Indian Valley and Carrollton.