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Seeding committee knocks it out of the park in first attempt

To say the OVAC Ron Mauck wrestling tournament’s seed committee hit a home run in its first at-bat wouldn’t be doing the seven members their do justice. They smacked a grand slam well out of WesBanco Arena.

Prior to the 67th annual event that was staged for three days last week inside the downtown Wheeling venue, coaches and tournament organizers got together to see how they could make some changes to the yearly mat extravaganza.

It was decided by a vote of the coaches that this year’s tournament would be seeded (1-12) by a committee for the first time. Now, there were certain criteria that each potential member had to possess in order to serve on the committee. Once again, this was voted upon by the coaches.

Well, on the first night of the tournament, the seed committee — which consisted of Shenandoah’s Jesse Wells (Class 1A/2A), Barnesville’s Jayson Stephen (Class 3A), Oak Glen’s Patrick McGillian (Class 4A) and University’s Ken Maisel (Class 5A); Steubenville’s Mike Blackburn (at-large), former chairman of the seeding meetings, Jim Rocchi, and wrestling aficionado Sean Smith — batted .976, going an astounding 164-of-168 in first-round bouts.

The only seeds that fell in the first round were a No. 11 and three No. 12s. Not bad guys!

Six of the 14 top seeds the group awarded stood atop the podium Saturday night, while eight of the weight classes had the No. 1 and No. 2 seeds meeting in the championship finals, with the underdog emerging in half of those matchups. All told, five second seeds ended up as titlists. Other champions included a third-seed and two fourths.

Half of the weight classes had the top four seeds finish in the top four but not in the correct order.

Overall, I think the committee deserves a much-earned congratulations on a job well done.

Dual Meet Championships

The cut-off date for the OVAC Bill Hinegardner Dual Meet wrestling championships has come and gone. It was Wednesday. The pairings will be announced today at some point.

However, just like the OVAC Ron Mauck Tournament, there are changes occurring here, too.

“There are some switches in the classifications this year due to some teams choosing not to participate,” event director Jim Rocchi said. “We had to make some adjustments.”

The Class 5A portion of the championships will be held Wednesday, Jan. 29 at the John Marshall Fieldhouse. Weigh-ins begin at 5 p.m., with wrestling to start at 6. The No. 1 team will face the No. 4 team in one semifinal, while the No. 2 and No. 3 teams meet in the other semi. The two winners will tangle approximately 20 minutes following the completion of the semifinals.

On Thursday, the Class 1A/2A and Class 3A/4A semifinals will be held at Brooke High School under the same formats.

Of the 43 schools in the bi-state conference with wrestling programs, less than half (20) were eligible to participate in the dual meet championships! I know there are some small schools that are in dire straits right now with numbers, or a lack of, but it’s the bigger schools that must have something “better” to do than compete for a conference crown as the Class 3A and Class 4A divisions have combined.

While overall tournament champion Parkersburg South was ineligible in the largest classification, Rocchio said the class has improved.

“We’ve got more participation this year out of the (Class) 5A teams than we have had for a long time because we’ve got on them,” he added. “Now it looks like we’ve got to get on everybody else.”

The Class 3A and 4A divisions had to be merged as 11 of the 16 teams have that dreaded asterisk besides their name.

“It’s a combination of things, I think,” Rocchio noted. “Some teams feel like they can’t win it, so they aren’t participating. Some teams don’t think they have enough kids to compete, so they don’t want to commit to it, and others just aren’t participating because of who knows why.

“I know there are some schools that are involved in other leagues that have to wrestle each other so many times, so it’s a combination of things,” he stressed. “It’s a shame that we have five classes and we will only be giving out three trophies.”

More OVAC Tournament Fodder

Congratulations go out to Parkersburg South’s Braxton Amos. The Patriots senior standout not only breezed through the 220-pound weight class with five pins in 4-minutes, 31-seconds to win the Hercules Award, but he was also voted the Bierkortte Award, symbolic of the tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler, by the tournament’s coaches.

But was he? Yes, he dominated his weight class, but he was supposed to. He is, pound-for-pound, the top wrestler in the nation, according to FloWrestling, and is still undefeated in his two-plus year prep career. He is headed to the University of Wisconsin.

However, when a certain championship finals match was pre-determined to be the ‘marquee bout’ — if it materialized and it did at 152 pounds — you would think the tournament coaches would vote for one of those two individuals, or not.

They didn’t. I’m not sure of the final tally, but Amos won out over Oak Glen’s Peyton Hall (4th) who defeated Parkersburg South’s Brayden Roberts (8th), 3-2, in a matchup of nationally ranked competitors, both of whom are going to attend West Virginia University to continue their academic and athletic careers. In fact, they are going to be roommates and because of his victory, Hall gets first choice on the bed situation.

I just hope the coaches weren’t afraid of presenting the coveted award to an individual for a second time. Many of those very same coaches did, however, vote for Hall as a freshman.

Just wondering?

WU Response

According to a text message from Wheeling University President Ginny Favede, the school is reviving its wrestling program. The coaching job has been posted nationally and interviews have been scheduled.

Stay tuned!

Important Mat Dates

— Saturday, the annual Fred Ferguson Brooke Classic

— Saturday, Feb. 1, Panther Classic at Buckeye Local; MEC Tournament at West Liberty University

— Saturday, Feb. 8, Ohio Team Duals Regionals, TBA

— Friday, Feb. 14-Saturday, Feb. 15, W.Va. Class A/AA Regional at Fairmont; W.Va. Class AAA Regional at Buckhannon

— Sunday, Feb. 16, Ohio Team Duals State Tournament, Ohio State University’s St. John Arena.

— Saturday, Feb. 22, Buckeye 8 Tournament at Indian Creek Middle School

— Thursday, Feb. 27-Saturday, Feb. 29, W. Va. State Tournament at Huntington’s Big Sandy SuperStore Arena

— Saturday, Feb. 29, Ohio Division II Sectionals at Claymont, Steubenville; Division III Sectionals at Barnesville, Sandy Valley

— Friday, March 6-Saturday, March 7, Ohio Division II Districts at Claymont; Ohio Division III Districts at Heath High School

— Friday, March 13-Sunday, March 14, Ohio State Tournament at Ohio State University’s Schottenstein Center.

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