Barnesville wrestlers do their part to give back

Wrestlers sometimes get a bad rap for being bullies or beasts because of the nature of their sport. That stereotype isn’t fitting at all.

Over the past 10 days, the Barnesville and Steubenville high school mat teams have combined to help a Steubenville youth that has been stricken with the toughest opponent of all — cancer.

“We found out about it while we were in Steubenville for the (Ohio Athletic Committee) Junior High School Districts,” Barnesville wrestling coach Jayson Stephen explained. “We talked about it a little and donated a little while we were there. On the way home we got to thinking, ‘hey, we’re going back Wednesday for a dual meet, why not donate some more from the program.'”

That turned into a check.

“It’s the right thing to do. It wasn’t much, but we’ve been through some situations like that in the past,” he added. “You do what you can do.”

According to Big Red head wrestling coach Mike Blackburn, a 7-year-old Pugliese West Elementary School student, Jayden Bradley, fell in January and struck his head. As a precaution, the child’s mother took her son to the hospital to rule out a possible concussion. However, instead of ruling out a potential concussion, the CT scan revealed a tumor, which, after removal and a biopsy, confirmed an aggressive form of brain cancer called Atypical Teratoid Rhaboid.

A post on Blackburn’s Facebook page said, “Jayden had been in Akron’s Childrens Hospital since the diagnosis and was recently transferred to St. Jude’s in Memphis, Tn., for more testing and aggressive treatment. He will have a tough road ahead of him, his mom also has a 4-year-old son, as well, and we all know how much day-to-day living costs can be stressful. The wrestling team would like to help in anyway it can.

“Steubenville High School witnessed an act of support and love for our friend, Jayden!” the post added. “The Barnesville Wrestling program presented a check for Jayden’s family. Thank you for the kindness and showing true compassion!”

The Big Red team also had a couple of containers at the OAC tournament over the weekend both at the concession stand and in the stands. All monies collected will be donated to help this little boy and his family during this difficult time.

I hope everything turns out for the best.

Buckeye 8 Tournament

The annual Buckeye 8 Tournament will be held Saturday inside ‘The Hangar’ on the campus of Union Local High School.

All 10 teams — Beaver Local, Bellaire, Buckeye Local, East Liverpool, Edison, Harrison Central, Indian Creek, Martins Ferry, St. Clairsville and Union Local — are scheduled to participate in what will be the final tuneup before sectional action begins next week.

The Beavers are the odds-on favorites to repeat as champions. Not only did they claim their first OVAC Ron Mauck Tournament title in January, they also advanced to the semifinals of the OHSAA Dual Team Tournament last Sunday before bowing.

Postseason Upon Us

Wrestlers in the Mountain State are preparing for the 72nd annual W.Va. state tournament inside Big Sandy Superstore Arena in Huntington on Feb. 21-23. A total of 67 individuals representing OVAC schools will be competing.

While W.Va. is at its top level, Ohio begins sectional tournament action the same weekend.

Division III schools are split between Barnesville High School and Sandy Valley High School in Magnolia, while Division II schools head to Claymont High School in Uhrichsville and Steubenville High’s Crimson Center. The Division III Districts return to Eastern Ohio when Buckeye Local plays host on March 1-2. The Division II Districts are at Heath High School.

The 82nd annual Ohio state tournament will be staged March 7-8-9 inside the Jerome Schottenstein Center on the campus of Ohio State University.