Bears, Hall impress on first day of OVAC tourney
WHEELING — After one day and one round of wrestling at the OVAC Ron Mauck Wrestling Tournament, all top seeds did what they were predicted to do Thursday and opened the 67th-annual tournament with wins inside WesBanco Arena.
Big Red boasted three of the top seeds as Ethan Pappas (160), David Tuttle (182) and Keith Bodnar all won by quick pins — with Tuttle’s coming in just seven seconds. Also earning victories via pins for Steubenville were Anthony Shevlin (106), Anthony Hill (113), Ethan Waggoner (132), Tyler Muldrew (138) and Brandon Kinney (170). Aaron Ferguson (160) won by technical fall, 17-1.
“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.”
Oak Glen’s Peyton Hall — the top-seed at 152 — pinned his opening opponent in 28 seconds. Hall is a three-time West Virginia state champion and is also looking for a fourth championship appearance and third OVAC title. He was also voted the Bierkortte Award winner as a sophomore. Other Golden Bears with first-round wins were Camden Barr (106), Braxton Dlugopolski (113), Clayton Lamb (120), Kaden Lundy (126), Camden O’ Connor (138), Jonathan Creese (145), Chase Smith (160), Dylan Heinrich (170), Kyler O’Connor (182), and Josh Blake (285).
Buckeye Local’s Brian Palmer Jr. came in as the No. 2 seed at 145 and registered a fall at 1:38. At 182, fellow Panther Charles Smith earned a 32-second pin and Zac Cesario (220) won by decision.
Indian Creek had seven wrestlers open with wins. C.J. Reese (132), Dominic Paterra (138), Jeremy Brown (145), Cameron Franke (152), Reese Spencer (160) and Austin Starr (170) all won by pins. Elijah Llewellyn (195) won by major decision.
Harrison Central saw Justin Sampson (106), Austin Howard (132) and Hayden Wallace (170) net victories.
Brooke’s highest seed of the tournament, Max Camiletti, won by a fall in 39 seconds. Camiletti is the third seed at 170. Also for the Bruins, Danny Yost (113) and Stephen Hunter (285) won by pins.
Cousins Wyatt Conley and Logan Walters earned Weir’s only first-round wins. Conley, the No. 4 seed at 132, pinned his opponent in 27 seconds. Walters pinned his in 50 seconds.
Toronto’s Chris Parker (160), Garrett Dozier (138) and heavyweight Josh Fancher opened with victories. Madonna lone win on Thursday came when Evan Daniels earned a tech fall. Edison’s Hayden Johnson (145) recorded a fall at 1:45.
In the team race, 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 to 38.5) while St. Clairsville and Steubenville have 35.5 each. Indian Creek is in the 10th spot with 27 points.
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 didn’t make weight. Tournament organizers said it could possibly cost the Beavers between 20 and 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.”
Beaver Local head coach Jonny McComas, in his first season, hopes his team can rebound and stay focused.
In addition to leading the overall race, the Parkersburg South 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.
South is 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.
Action resumes today at noon with second round championship bouts and first- and second-round consolation rounds. The night session starts at 6 p.m. and will include quarterfinal championship matches along with third- and fourth-round consolations.
(Sports writer Kim North contributed to this story)