WHEELING - It's not easy to win four straight OVAC championships.
It's only happened seven times, beginning with the legendary Bobby Douglas.
Four freshmen remain alive for the feat heading into today's championship semifinals at the 59th annual Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Tournament at WesBanco Arena.
Barnesville’s Clayton Crosier, left, locks horns with Weir’s Hunter McLaughlin during their 126-pound quarterfinal. Crosier won by fall, 3:21.
Sure, January of 2015 is a long way off. But, a kid can dream, can't he?
''It's crossed my mind many a time,'' Wheeling Park's Dylan Taylor, one of the four rookies, said moments after he defeated Oak Glen's Kyle Mack by major decision in a 126-pound quarterfinal.
''But in order to do that I'll have to train very hard.''
The others are Steubenville's Devin Brown (106) and Trent Mays (152), along with Parkersburg South's Thomas Hall (285).
''They're not freshmen anymore,'' Steubenville coach Mike Blackburn said of Brown and Mays. ''They've been through the fire already and they pretty much did what we expected them to do.
''They both wrestled pretty well.''
Duals Not Far Off
No sooner will teams begin recovering from this weekend's tournament before attention is turned to the inaugural OVAC Duals.
Jim Rocchi, who heads the event, provided an update for coaches earlier this week.
Instead of a paper champion, this year's winner will be decided on the mats, starting Wednesday, Feb. 1.
That night, preliminaries will take place at Shadyside High School (Class 2A-1A, 11 schools) and Harrison Central High School (Class 4A, eight schools).
Action at both sites will begin at 5:30 p.m.
Class 5A and 3A have only four teams each, so they will automatically advance to the semifinals.
The semifinals and finals will begin at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 8 at WesBanco Arena.
Free Clinic This Morning
As part of the "Subway Sports Clinic Series," the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference will be hosting its annual free youth wrestling clinic this morning in conjunction with the tournament.
The clinic will take place from 9:30-11 a.m. at WesBanco. Registration will begin at 8:30 a.m. and end at 9:15 a.m. The clinic will be led by Branden Lee Hinkle, national champion wrestler and MMA participant. The clinicians will teach the basics of wrestling and help build self esteem.
The clinic is free and open to boys and girls ages 5 to 13.
Parents are required to have insurance and be present to sign a waiver form.
Past Champs to be Honored
As is tradition, tonight the OVAC will recognize the men who claimed OVAC championships on the mats of what was then the Wheeling Civic Center 25 years ago.
Winners from 1987 slated to be recognized include Mark Emmerling (East Liverpool, 98 pounds), Steven Murray (Oak Glen, 105), John Crain (Oak Glen, 112), Tom Teasdale (Bellaire, 119) and Brian Gable (Wheeling Park, 126).
Also being lauded will be Dean Burke (Bridgeport, 132), Dunyasha Yetts (Steubenville, 138), Vinnie Monseau, Wheeling Park, 145), Mark Mlynek (Bellaire, 155), Rick Burlenski, Bridgeport, 167), Dan Keenan (Steubenville, 175), Mike Vargo (Bridgeport, 185) and Alex Shook (John Marshall, HWT.).
The Official Word
The OVAC once again brought together some of the finest officials in the Ohio Valley to work this year's tournament.
Not only are they familiar faces locally, but they have also displayed their abilities at the state level.
Manning the mats this weekend are Jeremy Callen, Paul Coffland, Lou Coffland, Jim Copney, Rick Crosier, Chris Diserio, Buzzy Evans, Rich Heavilin, Ray Jefferis, Shane Kildow, Ray Marling, Jack Regis, Mike Stalnaker and Ken McWilliams.
If there are any disputes, they are turned over to Wheeling's own Dr. Bill Welker, state rules interpreter.
Kessel Earns Recognition
Tom Kessel, a lifelong New Cumberland resident and Oak Glen High graduate, was presented with the Syd Stoltz Memorial Award for his years of dedication as a table scorekeeper.
Kessel has served as a table worker at the OVAC tournament for more than 20 years.
Richard ''Dick'' Edge was presented an award for his years of tireless service to the sport of wrestling in the Ohio Valley.
The 1979 Mr. Mat winner, Edge has earned a plethora of accolades during his nearly five decades in education and athletics.