Familiar names grab spotlight as OVAC tournament opens
WHEELING — The usual suspects are atop the leaderboard after the opening night of the 67th annual OVAC Ron Mauck wrestling tournament inside WesBanco Arena.
Multiple-time champion Parkersburg South leads the pack with 50 points after winning 13 of 14 matches. Defending overall and Class 4A titlist Beaver Local and cross-river rival Oak Glen are deadlocked for second at 42. University had a half-point edge on Wheeling Park for third, 39-38.5, while St. Clairsville and Steubenville have 35.5 each.
The tournament got real interesting even before the first match was held when defending overall and Class 4A champion Beaver Local lost one of its top seeds and defending champions when 113-pound Jaymin Salsberry withdrew prior to the event. Tournament organizers said it could possibly cost the Beavers between 20-30 points depending on far the sophomore would’ve advanced.
“I hate to see that, honestly. I would like to see the best kids wrestle, especially when he was the top seed and defending champion,” Barnesville head coach Jayson Stephen said of the 113-pound weight class shakeup that saw his son, Griffen, go from the No. 3 seed to No. 2. “We don’t shy away from competition. We want it, but that stuff happens and we’ll work past it and keep going.”
Parkersburg South head coach Shaun Smith said it’s a break his team needs to take advantage of
“Obviously that’s a big deal. Hopefully, our guys can capitalize on it,” Smith said.
Beaver Local head coach Jonny McComas, in his first season, hopes his team can rebound and stay focused.
“I think it will make our kids more determined. I think they will wrestle harder,” he said.
In addition to leading the overall race, the Wood County Patriots also top the Class 5A standings, with the Beavers and Golden Bears battling it out in Class 4A. Barnesville and Shenandoah have comfortable leads in the Class 3A and Class 1A/2A, respectively. The Shamrocks are the defending champions.
“We had a good night. We got a lot of pins and, obviously, a lot of wins,” Parkersburg South head coach Shaun Smith noted. “Hopefully, we can continue that tomorrow (today). We’re relatively a young team.”
The Wood County Patriots are led by nationally ranked seniors Brayden Roberts (152) and Braxton Amos (220), both of whom are seeking their third titles. Amos didn’t compete as a freshman due to an injury.
The Ohio County Patriots, meanwhile, are paced by sophomore Nate Shelek (120), senior Andrew Shelek (138) and juniors Stevie Mitchell (145) and Billy Gooch (152).
“We did well. We won all of the matches that we should’ve won. I’m pretty proud of the way the kids came out and got a lot of pins, a lot of bonus points that should help us,” Wheeling Park second-year head coach Brian Leggett acknowledged. “I kids wrestled hard.”
The Shamrocks are trying to repeat their title from a year ago. So far, so good.
“I think we did pretty good. We had a lot of pins. The guys came through,” Barnesville’s Coach Stephen said. “We had a couple of kids get beat in some mismatches, but, overall, I’m pleased. The kids are wrestling hard.”
Sophomore Griffen Stephen (113) remained unbeaten with his 22nd consecutive victory.
The Red Devils are in the thick of things, as expected.
“We’re doing what we are expected to do. All of our wins have been by pins or technical falls,” St. Clairsville head coach Joel Sansone said. “We won nine matches.”
Top-seeded Koen Kish (126) breezed through his first match.
“I think the guys that were seeded did what they were supposed to,” Steubenville head coach Mike Blackburn said. “Our younger kids battled and wrestled hard. We’re so young. This was the first time for our freshmen, so I think they took it in stride and competed hard.”
The Big Reds have No. 1 seeds in Ethan Pappas (160), David Tuttle (182) and Keith Bodnar (195).
John Marshall is just outside the top 10 with 23.5 points in Ryan Asbury’s tournament debut as head coach of the Monarchs.
“I’m pretty pleased with how things went tonight. We still have six guys in the championship bracket,” he said. “We’re a very young team, so some of those guys are happy getting the mat time that they are. Even with our guys who lost, I saw improvement out of them. They’ve made steps towards beating guys they’ve lost to earlier in the season. I’m seeing some good things.”
Martins Ferry checks in tied at 14th with Cambridge.
“I’d say we did decent. Not as good as I had hoped or thought we could do,” Martins Ferry head coach Chad Ware said. “I thought we could get 8-10 wins in the first round, but that didn’t happen. Our seeded guys performed like they are supposed to. They all got wins and pins.
“George Hulsey at 152 beat the No. 12 seed,” Ware added. “We knew he could do it, it was just a matter of going out and doing it.”
That was one of four seeds that went down on the first night. One was a No. 11 and three were 12s.
There were a pair of 7-second pins from Beaver Local’s Cole McComas (138) and Steubenville’s Tuttle. McComas is seeking a third title and a fourth appearance in the finals. He lost to Steubenville’s Peyton Blasko last year and is also a three-time Ohio Division II state runnerup.
McComas is just one of five individuals seeking a third title. The others are the aforementioned Roberts and Amos, along with East Liverpool’s Howard Williams (132) and Oak Glen’s Peyton Hall (152). Hall, a three-time W.Va. state champion, is also looking for a fourth championship appearance. He was also voted the Bierkortte Award winner as a sophomore.
The other defending champion is Beaver Local’s Logan Ours (132).
Action resumes today at noon with second round championship bouts and first- and second-round consolation rounds. The night session starts at 6 and will include quarterfinal championship matches along with third- and fourth-round consolations.