Big Red Scores A Pin of Patriots

Dual meet action comes down to the final match

Steubenville’s Michael Gray, left wrestles Wheeling Park’s Daniel Skelton during Wednesday’s dual match.

WHEELING — With two of the premier powers in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, the Wheeling Park and Steubenville teams lived up to the hype during a dual match at The Palace on the Hill on Wednesday night. With the score tied 33-33, it came down to the final match of the night as Steubenville’s Anthony Rice raced to a 5-0 lead after one period and got the pin at the 3-minute mark over Wheeling Park’s Jeremiah Timberlake to give Big Red a victory, 39-33.

“We wrestled them in the semis at the Park Duals,” Steubenville coach Mike Blackburn said. “They have a really, really good team. We knew it was going to be a good match. It’s always hard to beat somebody a couple of times. We moved some guys around this match, just so a couple of guys could get some real good matches. They got banged up and we got banged up. It’s kind of hard right before the OVAC Tournament, but we’ll heal up.”

With four matches to go, Wheeling Park faced a 33-21 deficit. However, the Patriots were able to tie it up at 33-33 when they won three straight. Canon Welker got things going as he won by decision over Bill Murray, 7-5. Two matches later, Stevie Mitchell won the 138-pound matchup to tie the score at 33-33.

“We knew when we scheduled this season that Steubenville at home for Senior Night was going to be big night for us,” Wheeling Park coach Clay Tucker said. “They’re always in shape, they’re prepared, always ready to go. I’m happy the way it went. It came down to the last match, just like the previous duals. We wanted our kids to go out there and wrestle six hard minutes and try to minimize the mistakes that they make and capitalize on their offense. I think a lot of our kids did that.

“I think we were the underdog in a lot of the matches and we were able to push the pace in the action a little bit, so I was happy with the way that the kids wrestled. Steubenville is a solid team and they always are. It was a fun night.”

Arguably the most exciting match was between Billy Gooch and Zane Manilla (132). Down 33-24, Wheeling Park needed a win to stay in the match, and it came down to the final seconds before Gooch delivered. Gooch was able to get a two-count on Manilla with four seconds left to get two points (back points) for the Patriots to secure a win and put the score at 33-27.

“We knew Gooch was going to be a good wrestler the last two years,” Tucker said, “I think he is one of those kids that has got better as the season went on. He wrestles like he’s been doing it his whole life. He’s just going to continue to get better. He’s a hard-worker, he’s good in school. He’s a well-coachable kid. He’s going to get better as the year goes on, which is exciting because he’s already really good.”

Steubenville’s Michael Gray started the match with a technical fall over Daniel Skelton followed by a Jashon Hubbard victory by injury default. Wheeling Park got its first victory when Kaleb Simpkins pinned Jamal Petteway in 1:52. Steubenville responded in the 182-pound matchup, as David Tuttle won by major decision (9-0) over Axel Gebhardt to put the score at 15-6.

The Patriots tied it in the next two matches as Austin Loew won by decision (5-3) over Keith Bodnar and Dylan Wood secured a win by injured decision. Steubenville regained the lead in the heavyweight match as Tyler Ely pinned Calvin McGaha in 4:44.

“It’s great competition in front of a great crowd. It was a fun dual. It’ll get you ready for the OVAC Tournament for sure,” Blackburn said.