SHADYSIDE - The inaugural OVAC Dual Tournament proved once again why the conference wants as many of its championships decided on the field, court or mats as possible.
The opening round for the A/AA field at Shadyside High School saw two of the three lower seeds in action advance to next week's OVAC Dual Championship at WesBanco Arena in downtown Wheeling.
The lone higher seed to survive was second-seeded River, which dispatched Toronto, 54-36. Sixth-seeded Steubenville Catholic avenged an earlier dual loss when it sent the host Tigers packing, 36-34.
Cameron’s Devin Starcher pins Beallsville’s Robert Valentine during the OVAC Dual Championships.
Fifth-seeded Cameron earned the right to take on top-seeded Caldwell, which received a bye to the finals, next week after getting past Beallsville, 45-36.
River's victory was fueled by seven forfeit victories, which gave the Pilots 42 points before the match even began.
''We're obviously pleased to advance, but we realize Toronto was shorthanded,'' River coach Dr. Vince Monseau said. ''We wish there were more competitors to get some more matches.''
Monseau, who spoke openly that he's a fan of duals and triangulars, was totally on board with the OVAC's decision to go to this format.
''I like the idea, but I think all of the schools, including us, need to recruit more kids from the school to come out, so we fill our lineups,'' Monseau said. ''This makes the kids who might be under .500 a very key part of the dual match.''
Steubenville Catholic was the surprise of the evening after the Crusaders built an early lead and managed to hang on as the hard-charging and shorthanded Tigers came up just short.
''This is a great win for our program,'' Steuben-ville Catholic coach Aaron Henry said. ''I never count these kids out. We lost to Shadyside earlier in the season, but we came down here with a different attitude.''
The Crusaders got out of the gates quickly thanks to pins by Blake Kierowski and Mike Crosby at 106 and 120, respectively. Figure in Tigers forfeits at 113, 126 and 132 and the Crusaders found themselves in control with a 30-0 lead.
A pin later by Andrew Beaulier in the second period at 145 pounds proved to be the difference.
Shadyside's dynamic junior duo of Ian Baker and Alex Quinn each recorded a pin, but it wasn't enough as the Tigers recorded only one other pin the entire match at 195 pounds by Donnie Heath.
''To have kids get decisions and not get pinned were critical for us,'' Henry said. ''We wouldn't have been able to win this if those had been pins.''
The Tigers wrestled without two starters due to disciplinary reasons.
The Crusaders and Pilots will meet in one of the semifinals next Wednesday.
Cameron came into its matchup with Beallsville with a simple objective according to Dragons coach Ron Trowbridge.
''We only had eight kids in our lineup, so we knew we had to pin to win,'' Trowbridge said. ''We had some kids out sick and we don't have many extra guys, so we knew it was going to be a close match.''
The Dragons didn't lose a match and posted five victories by pin, two by decision and picked up a forfeit from the Blue Devils.
Cameron's Taylor Neely recorded the quickest pin of the evening, holding the Beallsville opponent's shoulders down at the 33-second mark.
''Beallsville has a lot of kids and has really improved since we wrestled them earlier in the season,'' Trowbridge said. ''We stressed to the kids that if we wanted to move on to face Caldwell, we had to get as many pins as possible.''
As for what lies ahead in the Redskins, Trowbridge knows his team will face a daunting task, but he likes that idea as West Virginia regional action begins the week after the OVAC finishes.
''We only get better by wrestling good kids,'' Trowbridge said. ''I'm not sure about the new format yet. I'm not sure if these preliminaries are the way to go or you just take the top four, but the only problem is how do you schedule?''
At Cadiz, Steubenville continued its dominant season with a 79-0 throttling of Union Local. Big Red will take on Edison, a 59-18 winner against St. Clairsville.
Oak Glen defeated Meadowbrook, 57-21, and will advance to face Harrison Central, which won by forfeit because of Buckeye Local needing to pull out because of MRSA.