OVAC Wrestling Tourney: South, Big Red Rich With Seeds

WHEELING – If Monday’s news conference for the Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Championships at WesBanco Arena are any indication, this year’s edition should prove to be a memorable one.

For the first time any anyone’s recollection, there were no misspellings on the pairings sheet.

Understand, there are hundreds of names, and the OVAC is very cognizant of making sure every I is dotted and every T is crossed.

The legendary tournament will be held Thursday through Saturday at the arena.

Of course, some things remain tradition, and as has been the case during the last five years, Parkersburg South (three titles) and Steubenville (the defending champion) are favored to dual for the overall championship.

South has a tournament-best 12 seeded wrestlers and Steubenville has eight.

“We’re are a little different than last year’s team,” Big Red coach Michael Blackburn said, noting his team lost nine seniors from that team. “You have to come to wrestle.”

South also has eyes on regaining the title it won three straight years before Steubenville took the crown last winter.

“I’m proud of what the boys have done so far,” coach Donna Dixon said. “We know coming in here it is never easy. There are a lot of great wrestlers in the OVAC. Once you get here, anybody is capable of stepping up and winning it.”

Wheeling Park would like to be one of those teams that steps up.

Indications are it is set up to do just that.

The Patriots have a championship-best five top-seeded wrestlers.

“That’s a big number for us, and something we are very proud of,” coach Jack Doyle said. “These kids have worked for this since they were freshmen and now they are juniors and seniors. We think we are capable of making a run at the title this year.”

With those five wrestlers – 120-pound Dallas Baciak (20-2), 145-pound Dylan Taylor (19-2), 152-pound Jonny Davis (19-3), 160-pound Eric Banks (11-0) and 220-pound Geremy Paige ((11-1) -earning top seeds, the stage is set.

And, Park is coming off a dual meet victory against Steubenville last week.

“Coming off that big dual win over Steubenville is going to give us momentum heading into the (OVAC Championships),” Doyle said. “We are coming in expecting to do well.”

South does have the 12 seeded wrestlers. Still, with the number of Park’s top-seeds, if they fare well, should bag a lot of points for Park, which has seven overall wrestlers seeded.

“We fully expect those guys to get a lot of points for us,” Doyle said. “But for us to win the championship, it’s going to be our other guys who win it. We need points from guys who are seeded outside those five and our guys who aren’t seeded.”

Still, Steubenville wears the crown.

“Obviously, Park has got some real firepower with that number of No. 1 seeds,” Blackburn said. “We just have to come out and wrestle.”