Night of champions
Big Red wrestlers win Division II district tournament
UHRICHSVILLE — The Steubenville wrestling team wanted to get back on top of the podium at Saturday’s Division II district tournament at Claymont High School after coming in second to Beaver Local at the sectional hosted by Big Red a week ago.
It did just that by taking the top spot, while qualifying seven wrestlers for next week’s state championships in Columbus.
“I think we’ve wrestled good all year,” Steubenville coach Michael Blackburn said. “We’ve just been banged up and trying to piece our lineup together and get everybody back. It’s all built up to sectionals, districts and state.
“Last week we got knocked off by Beaver. We knew we had the firepower to do it, and our kids wrestled great (Saturday). This is a tough district. There were a lot of tough matches.”
Big Red posted an overall team score of 159, topping the host Mustangs by 16.
One of the seven Big Red wrestlers that advanced got some personal redemption. Tyler Ely won the the 285-pound district crown by defeating River View’s Sam Mitchell, who got the best of him a week prior on his home mat.
“I lost to him at sectionals, and to come back and beat him in the finals feels amazing,” Ely said. “All the work I put into wrestling paid off and it feels incredible.
“I went (to state) last year but got hurt in the first match. It’s my final time going; it has to be it. I want to go out with a bang.”
Other district champs for Steubenville were Jacson Muldrew at 132 pounds, Anthony Rice at 138 pounds and Jashon Hubbard at 152 pounds.
Also qualifying for the trip to Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center were Peyton Blasko (second at 113), Tyler Muldrew (third at 120) and David Tuttle (fourth at 170). Keith Bodnar placed fifth at 195 pounds and is an alternate.
Blackburn is happy that his qualifiers will get to experience a state tournament.
“The kids are excited because we actually get to go practice at Ohio State on Wednesday,” he said. “They get to experience what Ohio State gets to see. Especially for the young guys that haven’t been there before, walking through that tunnel for the first time is an experience, and that’s what they’ve worked hard to earn.”
Indian Creek coach Brandon Pendleton had a couple of goals Saturday — get his underclassman district quailers some experience and for one of his Redskins to earn a trip to the State Capital.
“It was their first time at the district tournament,” Pendleton said. “They got their eyes opened a little bit and will be back next year hungry for some more.”
They did just that, as senior Parker Mazik came in fourth place at 132 pounds to advance to next week, redeeming himself after what he felt was not his best performance at the sectional tournament.
“It feels good to be going to Columbus and get to wrestle the state tournament in my senior season,” Mazik said. “Last week I didn’t have my best week, but this week I came out and wrestled my hardest, and things turned out good for me.”
Pendleton was happy for him.
“He wrestled really well for us this weekend,” he said of Mazik. “Last weekend he kind of had a not great tournament but turned around this weekend and had a fantastic tournament. He has put in a lot if time and that was one of his main goals. It’s really nice to see it payoff for him.”
One week after taking the sectional crown, Beaver Local had another solid day, placing fourth with 127.5 points and sending four to Columbus.
“I think our kids competed hard,” Beaver Local coach Jordan Williams said. “We battled hard all weekend. I’m really excited with the way our young kids competed.”
Those four are Cole McComas (113 champion), Skylar Lasure (second at 132), Beau Smith (fourth at 145) and Jared Wright (fourth at 152).
As good as it was, Williams pointed out it was close to being even better.
“You walk out of here with four, and your excited about that,” he said. “On the flip side, you feel bad for the kids that were so close to reaching their goals and getting to where they want to be. We had a lot of good, tough wrestlers that didn’t make it. They lost tough, close, hard-fought matches.”
Sending qualifiers to Columbus is something important to Williams and the Beavers.
“At Beaver Local, the postseason is why we do it,” he said. “It’s exciting to get four kids down there. It’s everything to this program.”
The East Liverpool Potters will send one to the state tournament in Howard Williams who placed third at 106 pounds.
He defeated Bishop Hartley’s Michael Petrella to take third place after pinning River View’s Rann Zimmer to earn his spot in Columbus.
The Red Devils brought a young group to Urichsville and coach was happy with how they performed while gaining experience.
In the end, Koen Kish finished in fifth by defeating Marion-Franklin’s Jalin Goodman to be an alternate at 113 pounds for the state tournament.
“We didn’t do bad, we had a lot of ups and downs,” St. Clairsville coach Joel Sansane said. “We brought four kids and all four won at least one match. We’re a young team.”
The Huskies wrestling season ended on Saturday with Blayne Erwin (182) and Cody Gamble (195) failing to advance in their respective weight classes.