By KIM NORTH
For The Intelligencer
WHEELING - There's always a feel-good story at the annual Ron Mauck Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Wrestling Tournament.
Wheeling Park’s Eric Banks wins a decision against Beaver Local’s Josh Barber in a 160-pound bout.
Wheeling Park's James Parsons fills that role as the 61st annual tournament completed its second of three days at WesBanco Arena on Friday night.
The Patriots freshman is making the most of his first OVAC Tournament as he advanced to the semifinals with a 10-0 major decision against John Marshall's Brandon Bertrand, the No. 6 seed. Thursday night, Parsons sent Beaver Local's third-seeded Jack Dawson to the consolation bracket with a 3-2 decision. He made quick work of Shenandoah's Devon Clark in his second-round bout Friday afternoon, pinning him in 14 seconds.
"It feels really good," Parsons said. "I'm excited to be in the semifinals, but I have to give credit to my teammates for working with me, especially Dallas Baciak and Austin DiGiandomenico."
Being unseeded gives Parsons a little added incentive to do well.
"I came in here unseeded and it makes me feel better when I beat seeded guys," he added. "It makes me look better and better each time."
The Patriots' 'Big 5' continued their marches to individual titles as No. 1 seeds Baciak (120), Dylan Taylor (145), Jonny Davis (152), Eric Banks (160) and Geremy Paige (220) all joined Parsons in the semifinals.
Taylor is the defending 138-pound titlist, while Paige has been the most dominant thus far. He has won all three of his bouts by pin, including a 6-second fall in the second round Friday afternoon.
"Not only are those five where they are, but they've picked up a lot of bonus points along the way," Wheeling Park coach Jack Doyle said. "When you're involved in a team race, that's always big, but we do have six in the semis.
"I think we can get all six of them in the finals. All five of our top seeds will be favored, but we've seen the Oak Glen kid that James will meet. We'll go back and watch some film and go from there."
Wheeling Park might need all six of those grapplers to win championships if it to close the gap against the Patriots from Wood County and Parkersburg South, which has piled up 160 points to third-place Wheeling Park's 116.5. Steubenville, the defending champion, is in the middle with 126 but had a tough quarterfinal round.
The Ohio County Patriots also have two wrestlers alive in the consolation bracket.
Parkersburg South has all of its 13 wrestlers alive, with seven of them in today's semifinals. The Patriots didn't enter a 113-pounder.
Leading their respective divisions are Parkersburg South (5A); Steubenville (4A); Steubenville Central (3A) and Caldwell (1A/2A).
Action resumes today at noon with the championship semifinals and continues all day, culminating with the 14 championship matches tonight. The Mr. Mat Award will also highlight tonight's festivities, as well as the 25-year reunion of champions.