OVAC Wrestling Tourney: South Takes First-Day Lead

WHEELING – The 61st annual Ron Mauck Ohio Valley Athletic Conference wrestling tournament got off to a slow start Thursday night, but once the action got going, it moved swiftly.

Following a 30-minute delay because of Internet malfunctions in the WesBanco Arena box office that wouldn’t allow tickets to be purchased, the wrestlers took matters into their hands and recorded 118 pins in the 166 matches contested.

When it was all said and done after one round, heavyweights Parkersburg South, Oak Glen and defending champion Steubenville were locked in a three-way battle for the top spot.

The Patriots, who won the event in 2010-12, piled up 44 points, just 2.5 better than the second-place Golden Bears, who claimed titles in 1991, 2002, 2004-05 and 2007. Eight-time titlist Big Red came in with 41.

Beaver Local and Wheeling Park rounded out the top 5 with 33 and 32 points, respectively, while Cambridge (27.5), University (26), Union Local (25.5), Morgantown (25) and Harrison Central (24) conclude the top 10.

Parkersburg South and Oak Glen advanced all but one of their 14 grapplers, respectively, while Steubenville has a dozen in the second round.

Wheeling Park has nine individuals alive for championships, including top seeds Dallas Baciak (120), Dylan Taylor (145), Jonny Davis (152), Eric Banks (160) and Geremy Paige (220).

All 14 top seeds moved on without any trouble, with 12 of them winning by falls. Edison’s Mitchell Wells (182) and East Liverpool’s John Miscuk (195) won by technical falls.

Paige recorded the fastest pin when he flattened Shenandoah’s Owen Moore in 10 seconds. There were two other falls before the 20-second mark, those coming by Parkersburg South’s Austin Harris (126) in 13 seconds and Wellsville’s Seth Bloor (220) in 17 seconds.

Only two upsets occurred during the opening night, those coming at 113 pounds where No. 3-seeded Jack Dawson was knocked off 3-2 by Wheeling Park’s James Parsons, and at 195 where No. 8 Preston Bier, of Beallsville, was sent to the consolation bracket with a 6-5 setback to Brooke’s Casey Munger.

In addition to leading the overall team standings, Parkersburg South leads the 5A, while Oak Glen tops 4A, Steubenville Catholic 3A and Caldwell 1A/2A.

The top story of the tournament, in addition to the closeness of the team scoring, is the performance turned in by the Bridgeport Bulldogs.

Coach David Nelson had four entrants in the event, but all four advanced to the second round with pins.

“I have no idea,” Nelson said when asked about the last time Bridgeport had four wrestlers win on opening night. “It’s been a lot of years, but the kids came out ready to wrestle. We looked strong and hopefully we can continue it.”

Winning for the Bulldogs were Ian Hammer (132), Emilio Saldana (138), Brad Tomolonis (170) and Carlos Kusic (182).

Hammer had the quickest fall of the quartet as he pinned Magnolia’s Skylar Yoho in 40 seconds. Saldana recorded his fall with two seconds left in his match, while Tomolonis, the fourth seed and returning placewinner, needed 3:08 and Kusic 4:22.

That was enough to put Bridgeport in second place behind perennial powerhouse Caldwell in the 1A/2A Division. The Bulldogs have 16 points, which ties for 14th overall, and is 3.5 behind the Redskins and one ahead of Shadyside.

Action continues at noon today with second-round championship matches.