STEUBENVILLE- Steubenville coach Mike Blackburn wanted his wrestlers to make a statement Thursday in the Class 4A portion of the Bill Hinegardner Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Dual Meet Championships.
Competing on the home mats, Big Red disposed of Martins Ferry 57-12 and Harrison Central 63-9 to claim the 4A crown. The victories give Blackburn's squad a sweep of OVAC titles. In January, Big Red earned the overall championship in the conference's Ron Mauck Tournament.
''We wrestled pretty and it's quite an accomplishment to win the OVAC dual title for the third straight year,'' Blackburn said. ''These kids deserve it, they have been working hard.''
According to the Big Red coach, capturing both the Mauck event and the Hinegardner duals means ''we have a lot of real good individuals and we are pretty solid as a team.''
Big Red's victory against Martins Ferry came in the semifinals. Harrison Central reached the title match by disposing of Oak Glen 39-24. In the battle for third place, Martins Ferry clipped the Golden Bears, 34-32.
In the championship bout, Big Red received pins from Andrew O'Dell (160), Mark Cole (170), Jake McKitrick (138) and Zach O'Dell (152). Of the matches contested, Big Red lost one. Harrison Central's David Forrester recorded a 4-2 decision at 120.
''I thought we did fairly well,'' Harrison Central coach William Bryant noted. ''We had a couple of kids home sick. I'm not saying that would have a made a difference in either match. We're still a young team and we have grown a long way from the beginning of the season. I'm proud of them.''
As far as Oak Glen's Patrick McGillian was concerned, his Golden Bears gave up too many forfeits.
In the consolation match against Martins Ferry, each team won four of the eight matches wrestled. The Purple Riders got a victory thanks to three forfeits. Against Harrison Central, the Golden Bears won six of the matches contested.
''Plus, we just didn't wrestle well,'' he added. ''I didn't feel like they were prepared and it showed. We have wrestled some of the kids we faced before and we wrestled them better.''
Eight Big Red wrestlers went 2-0 on the night. They were Tariq Wilson (106, he recorded a pin against his Martins Ferry opponent in just 10 seconds), Anthony Craig (126). Anthony Parada (132), McKitrick, the O'Dell twins, Cole and Brandon Jones (182).
Greg Moray, who competes at 220 for Big Red, needed 44 seconds to dispose of his Martins Ferry foe. Moray earned a forfeit victory against Harrison Central.