Wrestling Season Kicks Off

Photo by Kim North The Ohio Valley Athletic Conference “wrestling family” welcomed nine new head coaches during a kick-off press conference Monday night inside WesBanco Arena in downtown Wheeling. They are, front row, from left Kollin Clark, Cambridge; Dakota Goff, Edison; Ernie VanDyne, Beallsville; and David Doyle, Wheeling Central. Back row, from left, are Chase Kinemond, Shadyside; Doug Sizemore, Brooke; and Jason Seagraves, Fort Frye. Not pictured are Chad Ware, Martins Ferry and Russ Spence, Meadowbrook.

WHEELING–While a handful of high school football teams are still seeking state championships in both Ohio and West Virginia, the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference wrestling season officially kicked off Monday night when coaches, both head and assistant, and media members from all over the bi-state league converged on WesBanco Arena.

Nine of the head coaches were attending their first workshop and press conference. They included Ernie VanDyne, Beallsville; Doug Sizemore, Brooke; Kollin Clark, Cambridge; Dakota Goff, Edison; Josh Seagraves, Fort Frye; Chad Ware, Martins Ferry; Russ Spence, Meadowbrook; Chase Kinemond, Shadyside; and David Doyle, Wheeling Central.

“(Monday) was our official kickoff for the year,” Dr, Dan Doyle, OVAC Wrestling Commissioner and Director of the Ron Mauck OVAC Tournament, said. “We discuss with the coach’s committee in the spring topics and things they have concerns with, so we had our workshop prior to our meeting with coaches and media.

“(This) was about bringing the Ohio Valley wrestling community together, not just the high schools but our two NCAA Division II head coaches. We are blessed to have two great college programs right here in our backyard.”

Doyle was referring to Wheeling Jesuit University head coach Danny Irwin and Mitch Smith from West Liberty University. Both gave brief talks about their programs and the directions in which they are headed. The Cardinals enter the season ranked No. 5 in the preseason. The Hilltoppers check in at 14th.

Both universities open the home portion of their dual meet schedules within the next week. West Liberty debuts in the ASRC Wednesday as No. 6 University of Pitt-Johnstown visits for a 6 p.m. start. Wheeling Jesuit meets UP-J Sunday at 4 p.m.

Doyle said there will be 43 schools competing in the 66th Ron Mauck OVAC Tournament on January 17-19. New to the event will be Wheeling Central which is reviving its program after a 10-year hiatus, while Clay-Battelle, Conotton Valley, Monroe Central and Warren Local will not field teams. However, the pre-tournament press conference which is usually held the Monday prior to the event will be staged on Sunday, Jan. 13, with the site and time to be determined at a later date, according to Doyle.

In other tournament news, Doyle explained that should a “marquee” matchup develop for the championship finals, the finals would begin at the weight class following. So, if a “marquee” matchup is set at 145, the championship finals would begin at 152 and follow through until 145.

It was also noted that the OVAC Bill Hinegardner Dual Meet Championships will be held for Classes 3A and 5A on Wed., Jan. 30 at Moundsville Fieldhouse, while the Class 1A/2A and Class 4A will square off Thursday, Jan. 31 at Brooke High School. Action begins both nights at 6.

“More teams than ever have committed to the duals this year,” Doyle revealed. “That’s good news.”

Steubenville head coach Mike Blackburn said the annual “Clash of Champions” between the OVAC and Western Pennsylvania’s Midwest Athletic Conference (MAC) will be held on Tuesday, Mar. 12 at a yet-to-be-announced MAC school. A banquet will be held the night before at Undo’s in Weirton.

The head coach of the school that wins the Class 3A portion of the Ron Mauck OVAC Tournament will serve as the head coach. Other championship head coaches will make up the staff.

A moment of silence was held prior to the press conference in honor of former Barnesville head coach and 2014 Mr. Mat, Darrell Davis, who passed away in May.

The high school season kicks off Saturday, Dec. 1 with the Rick Link Invitational at Union Local.

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