Steubenville Roughs Up Park

Photo by Kim North Wheeling Park’s Dylan Wood, top, gets the upper hand on Steubenville’s Peyton Tuttle in their 220-pound match Wednesday.

STEUBENVILLE — With the 66th annual Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Ron Mauck wrestling tournament looming next week inside downtown Wheeling’s WesBanco Arena, a pair of traditional powerhouses collided in dual-meet action Wednesday night.

Steubenville, ranked No. 8 in Division II in the Buckeye State, flexed its muscle by winning 11 of the 14 matches — including four by pins — in posting a 54-14 victory over visiting Wheeling Park, which entered No. 4 in W.Va. Class AAA, inside Steubenville High School’s Crimson Center.

“Wheeling Park always has a great program with great kids and we had a great dual with them at the Park Duals,” Steubenville coach Mike Blackburn said. “At this point in the season there’s a lot of illness and injuries going around. That stuff happens, so that’s why you have to wrestle the match. You never know what can happen in a dual.”

In addition to the quartet of falls by Manny Ware (285, 1:01), Jacson Muldrew (138, 1:57), Brandon Kinney (170, 5:39) and David Tuttle (182, 0:39), Steubenville was awarded three forfeits and collected four decisions, none of which were close.

The match began at 220 pounds and Big Red (11-0) found itself on the short end of a 10-9 verdict after four bouts. However, the hosts reeled off four consecutive victories capped by Muldrew’s pin of Stevie Mitchell late in the first period of their 138-pound tussle. Muldrew, a returning state placer, secured a takedown and put the Patriots’ state placer on his back.

“Mitchell’s a real tough kid,” Blackburn said. “I think Jacson beat him 7-1 the last time they met.”

Big Red’s Aaron Ferguson started the deciding run with a 5-0 decision over Maison Richardson at 120. That gave the hosts the lead for good at 12-10. Peyton Blasko (126) and Bill Murray (132) followed with forfeits and Muldrew’s fall made it 30-10.

“He got down to 120 a couple of weeks ago. He’s trying to get comfortable at that weight,” Blackburn said of Ferguson, who missed all of last season with an injury.

Anthony Shevlin (106) and Anthony Rice (152) completed Big Red’s winners with 10-3 and 5-0 decisions, respectively.

“I think we wrestled kind of flat,” Blackburn admitted. “There are a lot of things that we still have to work on, but we’re at the Burgettstown Invitational this weekend so we’ll see 16 or 17 Pennsylvania schools that will be good competition.”

The Patriots received a pin from Dylan Wood in 1:48 at 220; a 11-0 major decision by Cody Taggert (113); and a 16-3 major decision from Andrew Shelek (145).

“We had some guys that really stepped up for us. Cody Taggert was one of those guys,” first-year Wheeling Park coach Brian Leggett said. “We asked him to bump up from 106 and he’s not a big 106-pounder, so for him to go to 113 and wrestle like he did was a big lift.

“I was also pleased with Andrew. That’s a kid (Zane Minella) that he has trouble with in the past. I think he won 3-1 the last time, so for him to go out there and actually blow the doors off of him was impressive.

“We expect that out of Dylan. He’s always going to give you everything he has.”

Leggett was also pleased with sophomore Billy Gooch (152) who lost 10-5 to Rice, the Buckeye State’s top-ranked 152-pounder.

“You have to have a good game plan against a good wrestler like Anthony. We had a good one. We kept it close point-wise. We just couldn’t get a takedown when we needed it.”

The Patriots are right back in action Friday when they trek to New Manchester to meet Oak Glen in a dual meet.

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