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Kings of the mat at the OVAC Tournament

T-L Photo/KIM NORTH BARNESVILLE’S Dakota King has his hand raised after winning the 126-pound title during the 68th annual OVAC Ron Mauck Wrestling Championships Saturday night inside WesBanco Arena in downtown Wheeling. His father, T.J., won an OVAC title in 1995 while competing for Cambridge High School.

BARNESVILLE — Like father, like son.

During Saturday night’s championship finals of the 68th annual Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Ron Mauck Wrestling Championships, Barnesville’s top-seeded Dakota King grappled his way to the 126-pound title with four pins and a technical fall. Flash back to 1995, his father, T.J., captured the championship at 160 pounds.

“I’m super proud. That was a special moment,” T.J. King said of Dakota’s dominating performance in the tournament. “I was kind of hoping that he could be a four-time champ, but that was kind of taken away from him last year by COVID. This was a great accomplishment, but we have bigger goals in March.”

The elder King was referring to the Division III state tournament on the campus of Ohio State University in Columbus.

“This has been a goal of mine since I started wrestling,” Dakota King revealed. “I’ve known for a long time that my dad was an OVAC champion, and I’ve always wanted to be like him. Now I want to be better than him and go for three.”

The younger King knows he wouldn’t be where he is with his father’s help.

“He’s awesome. He’s all I’ve got,” Dakota said. “He’s taught me everything I know about wrestling. He knows what I can do and he stresses that to me. Obviously, it’s working.”

Dakota King said not being able to wrestle at the OVACs as a freshman was disheartening.

“It was very disappointing not being able to wrestle here last year,” Dakota admitted of the tournament being canceled in 2021 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. “I can’t worry about that now, however. All I can do is take care of business and move forward.” While Dakota King accomplished a goal by posting a 19-4 technical fall over Steubenville’s second-seeded Cal Beadling in the finals, there wasn’t the celebration that one would have thought.

“We’re saving that one for March,” T.J. King said. “That’s the one that really counts. Winning this is nice, but the state title is the main goal.”

Dakota King’s championship helped the Shamrocks win the Class 3A team title. Three other individuals placed during the three-day event, including Skyler King (138–2nd; Ayden King (145–3rd) — although they are brothers they are not related to Dakota — and Griffen Stephen (132–4th).

Dakota King finished sixth in Division III at 113 pounds during last winter’s state tournament held at Marion Harding High School after claiming sectional and district crowns. He fashioned a superb 46-5 record, with three of the losses coming at the state tournament and two being to Gavin Caprella of Lima C.C. whom he also lost to in the Barnesville Doan Ford finals earlier in the season.

Barnesville head coach Jayson Stephen was pleased for Dakota.

“He’s a go-getter. Takedowns are a big key for him. He wrestled a great tournament and had a bright future ahead of him,” Coach Stephen said.

Being able to do what his father did is quite an accomplishment.

“That’s always good. I’m happy for both of them,” the coach continued. “That’s a great thing.”

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