CONNORVILLE - Despite being a little short-handed, Wheeling Park's wrestling team finished second at the 24th Annual Pepsi-Ohio Coatings Panther Classic Saturday night.
The Patriots had two individual champions in Dallas Baciak (120) and Dylan Taylor (145) in piling up 224.5 points, which was a distant second to Plum, Pa., which amassed 274.5. Fox Chapel was third with 219.5, followed by Hampton with 175.5 and Chartiers Valley with 152.
"We were wrestling without Geremy Paige and Eric Banks, and even Jonny Davis got hurt early in the day," Wheeling Park coach Jack Doyle said. "Those three guys we expect a lot of points from, but we wrestled pretty good, regardless."
Baciak captured his crown on his 17th birthday and was serenaded by the crowd following his 17-2 technical fall against Caldwell's Tyler Wiley. Baciak, the top seed and OVAC champion, improved to 32-2 on the season.
"I've never seen a wrestler get sang to like that," Doyle said of the rendition of Happy Birthday the Patriots' faithful performed. "Dallas continues to do what he does. He keeps working hard and the sky's the limit for him."
Taylor (36-3), who was upset in the semifinals of the Ron Mauck OVAC Tournament, posted a methodical 12-5 decision of Plum's Eric Green.
"Dylan probably wrestled the best tournament he has all season," Doyle said. "I never want to say that a loss is a good thing, but it definitely sparked something in him to re-commit himself. He's taken his intensity to an all new level."
Two Patriots took second-place honors, those being James Parsons (113) and Isaiah Myers (195).
Parsons was tech falled by South Park's Dallas Bulsak, 20-3, while Myers dropped a 7-2 decision to Plum's Nate Turchick.
Only one other OVAC wrestler took home the gold, that being Martins Ferry's Jonathon Bodkin. The Purple Riders' 285-pounder defeated Brooke's Preston Wise 5-3.
"It feels good," Bodkin said of his title. "This is the third time that we've met in high school, and I've won all three times."
Half-a-dozen other OVAC wrestlers finished second. They included Martins Ferry's Bryce Coleman (152), Bellaire's Myliek Green (160), Edison's Blaine Cline (182), Wellsville's Seth Bloor (220) and Caldwell's Rayner brothers -Kolby (132) and Kameron (138).
Caldwell was the highest placing OVAC school in sixth place with 149 points. Martins Ferry was eighth with 135 and Union Local 12th with 99.5.