Big Red Perfect On Day 1 of Park Duals
Dons, Monarchs, Patriots looking good
WHEELING — The Wheeling Park Duals at WesBanco Arena kicked off Wednesday as 32 top wrestling programs from the tri-state area battled it out on Day 1 of the two-day tournament.
Steubenville displayed arguably the most impressive showing on the opening day, posting a 5-0 record to place the Big Red at the top of their pool heading into the second day.
“We have built up to the point where we expect to come in here and compete the best we can,” Steubenville coach Michael Blackburn said. “We have a young team but we’re 15-1 in dual matches this year and our kids wrestled good (Wednesday).
Steubenville is tied with Dover atop its pool as both teams recorded 5-0 records and will meet each other on the mat at noon today for what could be the most intriguing matchup of the day.
In the second pool, Harrison is leading the way with a spotless 5-0 mark but Weirton Madonna is on its tail with a 3-1 record, its only defeat coming to the hands of Harrison by a commanding 64-6 margin.
Inviting so many teams from outside the OVAC allows local teams to compete against the best, which could prove beneficial in the long-run.
“We lost to Harrison, which is pretty good,” Weirton Madonna coach Ray Pernell said. “Its only going to help us. We told our kids to go out and battle and if you don’t win, just battle and I thought they did that. We lost some matches but really we might win in the long run from it. We can just wrestle the best that we can and get ready for what is coming down the road.”
Vince Pulice (138) and Ryan Ekey (220) supplied the only two wins in John Marshall’s loss to Harrison by decisions.
Carrollton holds a slim advantage in the third pool with a perfect 4-0 record, followed by John Marshall’s 3-1 mark.
The Monarchs’ only setback came to Carrollton by a 60-6 count but John Marshall coach Ted Zervos was proud of the effort put forth by his team.
“Carrollton has an extremely good team and we really battled with them,” Zervos said. “Anytime they step up to the challenge with a quality team like that, it just makes them better.”
Nathan Simmons did not lose a match as he was the only Monarch grappler to post an undefeated record on the day.
Waynedale has put together a solid 4-0 start to the competition to take the edge in the fourth pool, but Wheeling Park holds a 2-2 record and could be a team to watch as the events unfold today.
“Overall, we were up and down (Wednesday),” Wheeling Park coach Clay Tucker said. “We wrestled average and I think we are an above-average team so I want to see how everyone responds to it and come back (today). Our goal is to go 5-0 (today).”
Park began the day with victories over Howland and St. Xavier but followed with back-to-back losses to Waynedale and Point Pleasant.
Jeremiah Timberlake went unbeaten for the Patriots on Day 1 and will look to continue his success heading into today’s action.
Despite several standout performances Wednesday, the Park Duals is a great measurement of a team’s strength, rather than focusing on individual performances.
“We preached that this is not an individual tournament,” Tucker said. “It is a team effort and it comes down to a point here or there, they all add up and mean something.”
The competition not only tests teams on the mat, but in endurance as well. The two-day event has the ability to take its toll on teams who are not physically prepared for the rigorous tournament.
“Nine matches in two days is a grueling process but its something we prepare for in practice and I am excited to see how we do,” Tucker said. “One word we use a lot is “grind” and that is exactly what this tournament is.”
The Wheeling Park Duals continue at 9 a.m. today, with the championship round taking place at 6 p.m.