OVAC Ron Mauck Wrestling Tournament honors 75th year

WHEELING — The Ohio Valley Athletic Conference is celebrating its 75th anniversary this school year.

Many memories, impressive performances and athletes have come through the area in that time.

Few sports, however, match the tradition in the Ohio Valley that’s put forth by wrestling. Some of that history will be on display this evening when the 65th edition of the Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Tournament opens at WesBanco Arena.

The annual opening ceremony, which begins at 6, includes an Olympic-style procession of teams entering the arena floor. Tonight, though, there will be an added representative for each of the 41 schools taking part.

During the November mandatory coaches meeting, OVAC Wrestling Commissioner and tournament director Dr. Dan Doyle tasked each school will finding a representative to accompany the school onto the mat.

The selection of that person was totally open ended and up to the school.

“We just asked that it be someone who made a significant impact on wrestling in their community or school,” Doyle said. “It could be anyone. A past coach, athlete, volunteer, whomever. Just someone the school believed to be very significant to their program.”

As of Tuesday, Doyle had not received each school’s honoree, so he opted not to release any of the schools’ choices. He did offer somewhat of a glimpse into whom to expect.

“I see several Mr. Mats being recognized, I see some schools that have their all-time winningest wrestler, some ex-coaches,” Doyle said. “I am sure some of the schools had a tough time of narrowing (their choice) down to just one person.”

Normally, the school’s lightest entrant carries the sign for each school with him onto the floor. Tonight, the honored representative will have the distinction of leading the school in with the sign in tow.

Doyle, who is a Mr. Mat honoree himself, is an admitted wrestling junkie. He’s excited to see some familiar faces tonight himself.

“I am anxious to see who the schools go with myself,” Doyle said. “I think it’s going to be a really neat addition to the tournament.”

After the parade of schools, all of the honorees will pose for a group photo, which will eventually displayed in the wrestling case inside the OVAC Museum, which is housed at WesBanco Arena.

Wrestling action begins this evening at 6:30 with first-round bouts.