OVAC title chase continues

WHEELING – A dozen wrestlers from the immediate area still have hopes of becoming an Ohio Valley Athletic Conference champion heading into the final day of competition at WesBanco Arena.

Shadyside leads the area with a trio of semifinalists, while Martins Ferry has a pair. Barnesville, Bellaire, Buckeye Local, Harrison Central, River, St. Clairsville and Union Local all have one.

Action resumes at noon at the downtown arena with championship semifinal action. Wrestling continues throughout the day and concludes with the championship finals, which will begin at 7 p.m. Opening ceremonies begin at 6:15 p.m.

Tigers advancing to the semis include undefeated flyweight Greg Quinn, who actually took a little longer on the mat than usual. The top seed pinned Steubenville Central’s Timmy Young, the No. 8 seed, in 2:51 to improve to 25-0. Quinn will meet Oak Glen’s No. 5 seed Ryan Debee in the semis.

He will be joined by the Kahl brothers – Josh (120) and Brett (145) – who advanced by knocking seeded wrestlers in the quarterfinals.

Josh, the No. 4 seed, took out No. 5 Donald Starkey, of Toronto, with a 3:44 pin. He was trailing 2-1 at the time of the fall. Meanwhile, sixth-seeded Brett upset No. 3 Shawn Livingston, of Steubenville, with an 8-0 whitewashing.

Josh takes on top-seeded Dallas Baciak, of Wheeling Park, while Brett meets second-seeded Bailey Jenkins, of Meadowbrook.

“From here on out there are going to be tough, tough matches,” Shadyside head coach Sean Grinch allowed. “Greg’s the top seed and has a kid from Oak Glen that is solid. It should be a good match.

“Josh got a big win in the quarters. He and that kid had battled before,” Grinch noted. “Brett knocked off the No. 3 seed and has the No. 2 today. He’s faced him before, so if he wrestles hard, he has a good shot.”

Purple Riders seeking titles include Bryce Coleman (152) and Jonathan Bodkin (285).

Coleman, the fifth seed, outlasted No. 4 Dylan Alexander, of Parkersburg South, in a thrilling quarterfinal, 10-8, in a match he led 4-2 after two periods.

Bodkin, who didn’t compete in the OVAC Tournament a year ago, is making noise in the heavyweight division. Seeded No. 3, the Purple Rider pinned Steubenville’s William Poplowski, the sixth seed, just before the final buzzer (5:52) while holding a 5-4 edge. He won by injury default during the afternoon session.

Harrison Central’s lone semifinalist is 132-pounder Hunter Pizzino. The Huskies’ No. 2 seed posted a pair of hard-fought decisions Friday in advancing to meet third-seeded Bobby Stewart, of Union Local, in the semis. Stewart defeated Steubenville Central’s Blake Kiedrowski, 7-4, in the quarters.

“I didn’t get to see much of his last match, but I did see the takedown that won it for him,” Harrison Central head coach Bill Bryant said. “It’s the first time that he has hit that move all year to perfection, and I guess it paid off for a 5-point move.”

Other quarterfinal winners were:

  • Barnesville’s Austin Singleton, who, as the No. 6 seed at 126, earned a hard-fought 3-1 nod over Harrison Central’s David Forrester, the No. 3 seed, in overtime. He faces second-seeded Jason Keyes, of Beaver Local, in the semis.
  • Bellaire’s second-seeded Myliek Green needed a third-period reversal to blank University’s Liam Bal, 2-0, in his quarterfinal. Green meets Cambridge’s Eric Fox, the third seed, in today’s semis.
  • Buckeye Local’s J.D. Sokolowski, the No. 3 seed at 170, outpointed River’s Kole Smith in a spirited quarterfinal. He gets No. 2 seed Leo Hermann, of Steubenville Central, today.
  • River’s Eric Rosen, the No. 3 seed at 182, blanked sixth-seeded Cameron Fisher, of John Marshall in his quarter. He meets No. 2 Isaac Sanford, of Steubenville Central, today.
  • St. Clairsville’s Michael Furbee, who placed sixth last year at 220 and is seeded No. 4 at the same weight, recorded an escape and penalty point in the waning seconds to slip past Linsly’s Chimechi Oparanozie, 2-1. He gets top-seeded Geremy Paige, of Wheeling Park, today.

There’s always a feel-good story at the annual Ron Mauck Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Wrestling Tournament.

Wheeling Park’s James Parsons fills that role this season.

The Patriots’ freshman is making the most of his first-ever OVAC Tournament as he advanced to the semifinals with a 10-0 major decision over John Marshall’s Brandon Bertrand, the No. 6 seed. Thursday night, Parsons sent Beaver Local’s third-seeded Jack Dawson to the consolation bracket with a 3-2 decision. He made quick work of Shenandoah’s Devon Clark in his second round bout Friday afternoon, pinning him in 14 seconds.

“It feels really good,” Parsons said moments after defeating his Monarch opponent. “I’m excited to be in the semifinals, but I have to give credit to my teammates for working with me, especially Dallas Baciak and Austin DiGiandomenico.”

Being unseeded gives Parsons a little added incentive to do well.

“I came in here unseeded and it makes me feel better when I beat seeded guys,” he added. “It makes me look better and better each time.”

The Patriots’ ‘Big 5’ continued their marches to individual titles as No. 1 seeds Baciak (120), Dylan Taylor (145), Jonny Davis (152), Eric Banks (160) and Geremy Paige (220) all joined Parsons in the semifinals.

Taylor is the defending 138-pound titlist, while Paige has been the most dominant thus far. He has won all three of his bouts by pin, including a 6-second fall in the second round Friday afternoon.

“Not only are those five where they are, but they’ve picked up a lot of bonus points along the way,” Wheeling Park head coach Jack Doyle said. “When you’re involved in a team race, that’s always big, but we do have six in the semis.

“I think we can get all six of them in the finals,” he admitted. “All five of our top seeds will be favored, but we’ve seen the Oak Glen kid that James will meet. We’ll go back and watch some film and go from there.”

Wheeling Park might need all six of those grapplers to win championships if it to close the gap against the Patriots from Wood County and Parkersburg South, which has piled up 160 points to third-place Wheeling Park’s 116.5. Steubenville, the defending champion, is in the middle with 126 but had a bad quarterfinal round.

The Ohio County Patriots also have two wrestlers alive in the consolation bracket.

Parkersburg South has all of its 13 wrestlers alive, with seven of them in today’s semifinals. The Patriots didn’t enter a 113-pounder.

Leading their respective divisions are: Parkersburg South (5A); Steubenville (4A); Steubenville Central (3A) and Caldwell (1A/2A).