Smooth sailing thus far for 61st Ron Mauck OVAC Tourney
Dan Doyle couldn’t believe what he wasn’t hearing.
The director of the 61st annual Ron Mauck Ohio Valley Athletic Conference wrestling tournament was going through the brackets Monday night during media night inside downtown Wheeling’s WesBanco Arena.
Now, as most wrestling gurus know, this can be a tedious process. In fact, I’ve attended one of these sessions several years ago that lasted nearly three hours.
What Doyle was seeking from the coaches and media members present was any corrections to the 14 weight classes, be it another wrestler entered by a school, a name correction or the wrong year in school.
He got zero input, which is a good thing. However, it’s also very, very, very, very (I think you get the point) rare.
“I can’t ever remember that happening,” Doyle said following the 90-minute meeting. “To not have a single change is remarkable. I’ve been here some nights where we’ve had quite a few.”
He credits the diligent work of the coaches, as well as the technological age.
“Several years ago we (the OVAC) started going electronical with our entries,” he explained. “The Ohio coaches have been using it for several years entering their teams in the sectionals on Baum’s Page. Last year was our first year for that, and last year was much better, but nothing like tonight.
“Not a spelling. Not a grade. Not a record,” Doyle said of nothing be in error. “This is the way it should be.”
The man for whom the three-day extravaganza is named for – Ron Mauck – had some words of wisdom for the tournament organizers and coaches.
“As we are now in the technical age, I’m still out trying to build a fire so I can send smoke signals,” he quipped. “I always say this to my grandkids, ‘I just can’t wait until I pick up the phone and the operator says, number please?’ That will never, never happen again.”
Something that is guaranteed to happen is a whole lot of wrestling in a little more than 72 hours. From 6:30 Thursday night until sometime late Saturday evening, approximately 850 bouts will be contested by some 500 matmen from 39 Ohio Valley schools in what was once referred to as the largest high school wrestling tournament east of the Mississippi River.
For those of you planning on attending Thursday night’s action, or those who haven’t yet made up their minds, you won’t want to miss the Olympic-style opening ceremonies which get under way at 6.
Steubenville, the defending Class 4A and overall champion, will lead the procession of teams. The remainder parade onto the eight mats in alphabetical order – from Barnesville to Wheeling Park – while the Olympic theme song – Bugler’s Dream — is played over the public address system.
“We’ve got quite a different team from a year ago,” Steubenville head coach Mike Blackburn assessed. “We graduated nine placewinners from that team, so we’ll have a pretty young team. However, even though we’re young, we’re still pretty experienced.
“In this tournament, you never know what is going to happen,” he continued. “A kid could be unseeded and win it. Everyone is good and everyone wants to win. You have to come and be ready to wrestle.”
Big Red has nine wrestlers seeded in the top 8 of their respective weight classes, two more than Wheeling Park, but three less than Parkersburg South, who won the event the first three years it was eligible. Oak Glen has half-a-dozen seeded individuals.
One of Steubenville’s seeded wrestlers is sophomore Tariq Wilson (24-1). He was the 106-pound titlist a year ago. The only other returning champion is Wheeling Park junior Dylan Taylor (19-2) who won at 138.
Harrison Central has the most seeded wrestlers of any team in The Times Leader coverage area with four.
“I like the way our kids our sitting in the brackets,” Huskies’ head coach Bill Bryant said. “It’s not going to an easy road, but we are capable of putting some guys there (the placement rounds), but there are a lot of quality wrestlers this year.
“As far as our seeded kids go, it’s anybody’s tournament,” he stressed. “It’s just a matter of who shows up this weekend ready to go.”
Bryant was surprised that freshman 285-pound Brenton Stull (13-6) earned the seventh seed, but not when junior Hunter Pizzino (15-3) was second at 132.
“I didn’t expect to get my heavyweight seeded, and he probably shouldn’t have been seeded, but he works hard,” Bryant said of Stull. “He’s only a freshman and he’s still learning. He’s taken some losses to good kids, so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens.
“Hopefully, when the weekend is over, he’s standing on the podium,” Bryant noted.
“Hunter is a solid wrestler,” Bryant added. “He’s not real flashy and anyone that has wrestled him knows what’s coming. He’s very capable of winning the tournament, but he’s got to show up ready to wrestle.”
Martins Ferry, St. Clairsville, Shadyside and Union Local all have three seeded wrestlers, while Barnesville, Buckeye Local, Monroe Central and River all have two. Beallsville, Bellaire and Bridgeport all have one.
One of the Tigers three seeds is freshman Greg Quinn, the younger brother of 2013 OVAC and Ohio state champion, Alex. Greg has breezed through all 22 of his matches in earning the No. 1 seed at 106.
The Big Reds’ Myliek Green, who placed sixth a year ago, is seeded second at the same weight – 160 – with a 17-2 mark.
The Panthers’ Tristan Jones is seeded second at 182 with a 23-3 mark in his sophomore campaign.
For a complete team-by-team preview, see Wednesday’s edition of The Times Leader for our annual OVAC Wrestling Tab.
A reminder to readers that complete coverage of Saturday’s finals can be found on The Times Leader’s website (timesleaderonline.com) and in Monday’s edition because of deadline.
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org