6 win championships
WHEELING — Six wrestlers from the Herald-Star/Daily Times coverage area won their respective weight class at the 64th-annual Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Tournament at WesBanco Arena.
Leading the way was a freshman, Oak Glen’s Peyton Hall. The 120-pound Hall came into the tournament as the No. 2 seed, behind reigning champion, a D-III runner-up at the Ohio State Tournament, Greg Quinn of Shadyside. Hall, though, only had one loss this season and was an OVC champion a year ago, as well as a West Virginia Junior State Champion.
On Saturday, he added the Dave Bierkorette Outstanding Wrestler Award for the tournament to his list of achievements.
Hall turned heads throughout the arena when he took a early 2-0 lead on Quinn in the first period.
“I knew he wasn’t giving up after just one takedown,” Hall said.
Hall would hold the lead for the remainder of the match and expanded on his early momentum in the second and third periods.
“I was a little nervous because I knew he was dangerous,” Hall said. “He is a really great wrestler. I just had to keep moving because if I stopped, I knew he was going to hit me with something hard. He has good moves and I had to take into account what he was going to do next.”
In the end, he captured a 13-6 decision over Quinn for his first OVAC title.
Even though he never faced Quinn, Hall was still quite prepared for the bout because his good friend and wrestling partner, Alec Cook of Madonna, had wrestled Quinn twice last year.
“I had an idea on what he was going to do because Alec prepared me for it,” said Hall, who has wrestled with Cook for the past six years.
Hall is now 27-1 on the year and is the No. 1 ranked wrestler at 120 pounds in the state of West Virginia.
“It’s been a successful season,” Hall said. “I know I’m capable of a lot more. I’m ranked No. 1 in the state now and I hope to stay that way for the rest of the year.”
Cook, too, was a champion on Saturday.
The Madonna sophomore was the No. 4 seed entering the tournament and he improved immensely on his seventh place finish at 120 pounds a year ago.
“I’m working hard and training seven days a week,” Cook said. “Just working all the time.”
That extra time paid off as he earned a 3-2 decision over Shadyside’s Josh Kahl to win the 120-pound title. Cook fell behind early and wouldn’t get on the board until the final 20 seconds of the match.
“I had to get back in the match and score some points somewhere,” Cook said. “It was better late than never. To never win an OVAC title before, this is the greatest feeling ever.”
Like Cook and Hall, Steubenville’s Timmy Young and Jashon Hubbard are practice partners.
Also, like Cook and Hall, the good friends earned OVAC titles.
Young was the 106-pound champion a year ago and Hubbard had stood atop the podium the past two years.
Young, who is undefeated at 23-0, earned a 6-4 win over Meadowbrooke’s Abe Frizzell.
“It’s a good feeling, even though I didn’t wrestle my best,” Young said. “A win’s a win. It was fun overall. It’s always a fun tournament and I’m always happy to be here.”
Young, who started his career at Catholic Central, said it’s bittersweet walking off the mat at WesBanco Arena for the fourth and final time.
“It’s crazy that I’ll never wrestle here again,” Young said. “I’m happy I won it for my senior year, but time went by fast. It’s hard to believe.”
He placed seventh at the Division II State Meet a year ago and hopes to make it to the finals this year, to keep his unbeaten streak in tact.
“I want to keep the streak alive,” Young said. “It takes a lot of hard work. We’re always going hard in the training room. As a team, we want to win the state title. We definitely can do it because that’s what we have our mind set on.
“I know what it takes. I know I’m going to have to work my butt off to place again and go even further. It’s never given. Anyone can come out of anywhere. You have to wrestle your best and be on your game.”
Hubbard pinned his way through the first two days of competition in the OVAC Tournament and he held the title of quickest pin of the tournament, winning a match in six seconds.
He had to settle for the decision against Indian Creek’s Miles Mazik, winning by a 6-1 margin.
“I felt pretty good about it,” Hubbard said. “It was a good win because he is a really great wrestler, too. I felt confident out there. I wanted this win because it’s always been my goal to win four OVAC titles. I’m almost there.”
First, he has to finish off this season. He is already a two-time D-II state placer and, like Young, he is undefeated this season. Hubbard has a record of 24-0.
“I’ve been maturing a lot,” Hubbard said. “I’m eating better and I feel more energetic because of it. I’ve been hitting the weight room hard. I know it takes a lot of hours in the wrestling room and a lot of focus and determination to go all the way.”
The two most exciting championship matches of the night belonged to Oak Glen’s Robert Bozek at 138 pounds and Brooke’s Alex Edgell at 220 pounds.
Bozek already has two West Virginia state titles to his name and, this Spring, he could become just the fifth wrestler in school history to earn three individual titles. Yet, an OVAC title has always eluded him.
Bozek fell behind, 2-0, against John Marshall’s Anthony Carmen and still trailed, 3-2, after the second period. With five seconds remaining in the match, Bozek earned a takedown and celebrated a 4-2 decision for his first OVAC title at 138 pounds.
“It was one of the craziest matches that I’ve ever been a part of,” Bozek said. “The atmosphere and the experience was incredible. It was one of the best matches that I’ve ever won. It wasn’t much nerves, it was more of a realization that it was now or never. I knew I had to get it, or it was over. So, I knew what I had to do and I was confident I could do it.”
There was a break in the action 45 seconds earlier, so Bozek, the No. 1 seed, gradually began his plan of attack when the whistle blew to restart the match.
“When we went to restart I knew that was my chance right there,” Bozek said. “I knew I had to be faster than he was. I had to work faster than I ever had before.”
The West Liberty wrestling recruit now owns a record of 28-4 on the year.
” The main goal is that third state title,” he said. “But this is definitely special. In some aspects, this is a harder tournament. It’s tough and it’s been a long week and it’s been great. This tournament is a grind.”
It took four overtime periods for Edgell to grind out a win, his first OVAC victory.
He edged Martins Ferry’s Hunter Bodkin, 3-2, with a reversal in the first six seconds of the fourth extra frame.
“I knew I was going down in sudden death and I could hear their coach yelling to keep me down,” Edgell said. “I couldn’t let that happen. I dropped to an ankle and stood up. He was on my left, so I threw the right ankle up and kicked out. He got a little low and I had my stance, so I busted up as quick as I could.”
This was Edgell’s first time placing in the OVAC Tournament and he came in as the No. 4 seed. He now sports a 21-3 record and hopes to improve on last year’s sixth place finish in the West Virginia State Tournament.
“Right now, the goal is states,” Edgell said. “I’m looking forward to more great competition the rest of the season. This is a great way to hit the midpoint of the season. I learned a lot from that match. It was a good one, that’s for sure.”
All told, there were 36 local wrestlers who made the podium on the final day of competition.