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St. Clairsville going to Powerade; still will be hosting own tourney

There are times when an opportunity comes around that you just can’t pass up. No matter how hard of a decision it requires.

That’s the dilemma — albeit a good one — that St. Clairsville head wrestling coach Joel Sansone found himself in last spring. He knew for a couple of years that his 2019-20 team was going to be pretty strong as a veteran nucleus was returning.

So he applied to be a part of one of the Top 5 tournaments in the nation — the Powerade which is held in nearby Canonsburg, Pa.

“I was notified sometime in the spring that we had been accepted to participate,” Sansone recalled. “Every year it’s between the fourth and fifth ranked tournament in the nation. I believe the announcement this year is that it’s the fourth strongest.”

Entry into an event of this magnitude requires an invitation from tournament officials.

“You have to file an application for entry based upon your returning starters. We’ve been on the waiting list for the last three years and our number got pulled this year,” he said. “We’re going to take our top guys and see what we can do. Opportunities like this may only come around once.”

The tournament is scheduled for Friday, Dec. 27 and Saturday, Dec. 28 inside Canon McMillian High School.

If those dates sound familiar, they are. It just so happens that the annual America’s Best Value Inn Tournament, hosted by the Red Devils, falls on the very same days.

Here’s where the decision comes in.

“We’re still holding our tournament. In fact, I’m staying back to help run it due to some unforeseen circumstances,” Sansone explained. “I’m sending my assistants up there and I have total trust in them, and so do the kids.

“It’s going to be a good test. We know that going in,” he stressed. “It’s not going to be like a local tournament where everyone is going to have a chance to pick up a couple of wins. Every round is going to be a grind. We just told the kids it doesn’t matter how big their bracket is or who they are wrestling, it’s just got to be one match at a time. Just focus on the next match in front of you and take care of business.

“These are the kind of tournaments where, if you want to make a good run, you’ve got to be willing to wrestle six-plus minutes hard and squeak out the decisions. There’s not going to be many, if any, quick pins and no easy rounds.”

The Red Devils will be represented by sophomore Gannon Kazmirski (106) who was 27-15 last season; junior Koen Kish (120) 45-7 and a state qualifier; senior Quintin Elerick (126) 23-12; sophomore Caden Stout (132) 42-16 and a state qualifier; junior Austin DaRe (138) 37-16; sophomore Jaideen Springer (160) 8-10; junior Reese Skaggs (170) 31-18; senior James Dobbs (182) 30-17; and senior Derek Witsberger (195) 44-9.

Final entries were due today.

“We’ve already entered our kids. I hope they are at least out by Christmas,” Sansone noted. “It should be interesting to see where we’re at.”

The top 8 placers in each weight class will receive an award.

“Realistically, if we have two guys get on the podium I’ll be happy,” he admitted. “Everyone we’re sending has an opportunity to make a run, especially if they get the right draw.”

Perennial West Virginia Class AAA powerhouse Parkersburg South is the only other OVAC school entered. The Patriots have two-time defending champion Braxton Amos (220) on their roster. He is a University of Wisconsin recruit who went 46-0 last season and has yet to give up an offensive point against him in his high school career.

In addition to Amos, other defending champions back for another season include Gary Steen (106) Reynolds (PA District 10) 42-2; Alejandro Herrera (113) Seneca Valley 48-1; Kurtis Phipps (120) Norwin 37-3; Sam Hillegas (132) North Hills 42-1; Ed Scott (138) DuBois (PA District 9) 39-0; and Connor O’Neil (160) DePaul Catholic (New Jersey).

Teams entered in the Powerade are: Burrell, Camden Catholic (N.J.), Canon-MacMillan, Cedar Cliff (Pa., D-3), Chestnut Ridge (Pa., D-5), Connellsville, Council Rock North (Pa., D-1), Depaul Catholic (NJ), Derry, Dubois (Pa., D-9), Erie Prep (Pa., D-10), Franklin Regional, Freedom, Hampton, Hempfield, Howell (NJ), Kiski Area, Latrobe, Malvern Prep (Pa.), Mason (OH), Mifflin Co. (Pa., D-6), Cincinnati Moeller, Montoursville (Pa., D-4), Mt. Lebanon, North Hills, Norwin, Parkersburg, Parkersburg South, Pope John Paul II (Pa., D-12), Quaker Valley, Reynolds (Pa., D-10), Saegertown (Pa., D-10), Seneca Valley, St. Pauls (Maryland Prep), Stroudsburg (Pa., D-11), Trinity, Thomas Jefferson, Waynesburg, West Allegheny, Arlington Martin (Texas), Ellwood City, Elizabeth Forward, Forest Hills (Pa., D-6), Mt. Pleasant, Oscar Smith (Va.), Peters Township, Riverheads (Va.), South Park, St. Clairsville, Turner Ashby (Va.), Wadsworth (OH), Bullis School (Maryland Prep) and national power Wyoming Seminary (Pa.)

Shadyside Sixth at Weir

The Tigers placed sixth in the Weir Powerhouse Tournament last weekend.

Brendan Schrader captured the championship at 145 pounds. Ashton Jones (152) and William Robinson (160) both finished second.

Amos a Three-Time Ironman Champion

Kudos go out to Amos. The Patriots standout recently became a three-time champion at the prestigious Ironman. South’s Brayden Roberts and Gavin Quiocho each placed sixth. The Patriots were 11th out of 107 schools from around the country.

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