Big Red captures OVAC Duals

STEUBENVILLE – Big Red’s Mike Blackburn wanted his wrestlers to make a statement Thursday in the Class 4A portion of the Bill Hinegardner Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Dual Meet Championships.

Mission accomplished.

Competing on the home mats, Big Red disposed of Martins Ferry 57-12 and Harrison Central 63-9 to claim the 4A crown. The victories give Blackburn’s squad a sweep of OVAC titles. In January, Big Red earned the overall championship in the conference’s Ron Mauck Tournament.

“We wrestled pretty well and it’s quite an accomplishment to win the OVAC dual title for the third straight year,” Blackburn said. “These kids deserve it, they have been working hard.”

According to the Big Red coach, capturing both the Mauck event and the Hinegardner duals means “we have a lot of real good individuals and we are pretty solid as a team.”

“Overall, we are pretty competitive no matter where we were,” he continued. “We have nine starting seniors, a sophomore and three freshmen. When you have that many upperclassmen and that much leadership, hopefully you are a pretty solid team overall.”

Big Red’s win over Martins Ferry came in the semifinals. Harrison Central reached the title match by disposing of Oak Glen 39-24. In the battle for third place, Martins Ferry clipped the Golden Bears 34-32.

In the championship bout, Big Red got pins from Andrew O’Dell (160), Mark Cole (170), Jake McKitrick (138) and Zach O’Dell (152). Of the matches actually contested, Big Red lost just one. Harrison Central’s David Forrester recorded a 4-2 decision at 120.

“I thought we did fairly well,” Harrison Central’s William Bryant noted. “We had a couple of kids home sick. I’m not saying that would have a made a difference in either match. We’re still a young team and we have grown a long way from the beginning of the season. I’m proud of them.

“I’m disappointed in the deficit of the loss to Steubenville but at this point in time, they are the better team. We’ll continue work harder and make each day count.”

The Huskies will be back in action today, hosting Indian Creek and St. Clairsville in a tri-match starting at 5:30 p.m.

As far as Oak Glen’s Patrick McGillian was concerned, his Golden Bears “gave up too many forfeits. That was a big thing.”

In the consolation match against Martins Ferry, each team won four of the eight matches actually wrestled. The Purple Riders got the win thanks to three forfeits. Against Harrison Central, the Golden Bears won six of the matches contested.

“Plus, we just didn’t wrestle well,” he added. “I didn’t feel like they were prepared and it showed. We have wrestled some of the kids we faced tonight before and we wrestled them better.”

McGillian did single out Alex Shuman and Brodie Bittinger for “wrestling well.”

Shuman, who competes at 145, recorded a technical fall against Harrison Central and a pin against Martins Ferry. Bittinger (160) won by pin in the semifinals.

“As a team, we have a lot of work to do before the regionals (which start next weekend),” he noted.

The Golden Bears will compete against Weir High and Brooke Saturday on the Bruin mats.

Eight Big Red wrestlers went 2-0 on the night – Tariq Wilson (106, he recorded a pin against his Martins Ferry opponent in just 10 seconds), Anthony Craig (126). Anthony Parada (132), McKitrick, the O’Dell twins, Cole and Brandon Jones (182).

Greg Moray, who competes at 220 for Big Red, needed 44 seconds to dispose of his Martins Ferry foe. He earned a forfeit win against the Huskies.

Big Red is idle until sectional action begins on Feb. 15 and Feb. 16 at Buckeye Local. Blackburn said Thursday’s matches definitely will help his club get ready.

“We haven’t seen too many guys from Harrison Central before, even in the OVAC tournament,” he pointed out. “They’ll be at our sectionals and tonight gave us an idea of what they have. Plus, it gives us some like opponents to help out at the seeding meeting.”