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Cochran Defying All Odds

Photo by Kim North John Marshall’s Carl Cochran, front, tangles with Indian Creek’s Tyler Sipes at Thursday’s OVAC wrestling tournament.

WHEELING — Carl Cochran is defying all the odds. Or is he?

The John Marshall flyweight was seriously injured in a late April mountain bike accident, a wreck that nearly took the youngster’s life way too soon.

However, believing in something the sport has taught him, the 113-pounder returned to practice with his teammates in August. Thus far, he hasn’t missed a beat.

“The mental toughness that wrestling has given me,” he was quick to point out as his focus during the recovery period, which took nearly four months. “It feels great. Glad to be back here for sure,” Cochran said after pinning Indian Creek’s Tyler Sipes in 1:14.

Cochran was an OVAC Tournament runnerup last winter when he lost to Beaver Local’s Jaymin Salsberry at 106 pounds. Both bumped up a weight this year, but Salsberry couldn’t make weight and the bracket had to be re-seeded. Cochran then went from No. 2 to the top line, with Barnesville’s Griffen Stephen moving up from No. 3 to No. 2.

“Not really. I’m just going to wrestle and do what I do no matter,” Cochran said when asked if that put any more pressure on himself.

First-year John Marshall coach Ryan Asbury, who was a long-time assistant with the Monarchs before being elevated when Ted Zervos retired after last year, raved about Cochran’s work ethic.

“Carl has done incredible this year,” Asbury said. “He got cleared to come back and work out with us in August. Ever since the day he was allowed to join us he’s been 100 percent in with the weight room and in practice where he is one of the hardest working guys in the room. It’s no accident that he’s back to the level he’s at now.”

When asked if he was surprised of Cochran’s success, Asbury didn’t hesitate in answering.

“No, it doesn’t surprise me at all. He’s such a hard-working kid. If there was any chance of him coming back, it was going to happen.”

Cochran (25-2) will meet Brooke’s eighth-seeded Danny Yost in today’s quarterfinals.

25-Year Champs Return

As has been the case for many years now, the OVAC will honor the past champions from 25 years ago during Saturday night’s festivities.

Those honorees include:

East Liverpool’s Jason Eckles (103); St. John Central’s Eric Anderson (112); Martins Ferry’s Lamont Tucker (119); St. Clairsville’s Justin Ewing (125); Bridgeport’s Brian Roskovich (130); Beaver Local’s Chad Bowersock (135); Bridgeport’s Cory Ellsworth (140); Martins Ferry’s Jim Riser (145); Steubenville’s Michael Hill (152); Cambridge’s T.J. King (160); Steubenville’s Aaron Newman (171); St. Clairsville’s Cary Heath (189) and Steubenville Catholic’s Chinadu Achebe (HWT).

According to coordinator Steve Kish, only Anderson will not be on hand.

Coaching Awards Handed Out

The OVAC Jr. High Coach of the Year was awarded to Brian Spahlinger of Southern Local, while the Assistant Coach of the Year went to Dave Colley of University. The Class 1A/2A Coach of the Year was David Nelson of Bridgeport. The 3A Coach of the Year Jayson Stephen of Barnesville. The 4A Coach of the Year was Jordan Williams of Beaver Local; and the 5A Coach of the Year was Shaun Smith Parkersburg South.

Moment of Silence

The OVAC wrestling family lost three staunch supporters since last year. They were Mary Lou Mauck, Ronnie DiLorenzo and Ken Robison.

By The Numbers

∫ Of the 441 wrestlers who stepped on the mat Thursday night, 76 of them had placed in the top 8 at least once during the past three years.

∫ Ten individuals are nationally ranked, including Oak Glen’s Peyton Hall and Brayden Roberts of Parkersburg South who are both in the top 10 at 152 pounds. Should that finals match materialize, it will be the marquee matchup Saturday afternoon. That means the championship finals would start at 160 pounds and continue through to 152.

∫ There are six West Virginia state champions among this year’s field of wrestlers; 21 Mountain State placers; one Ohio state runnerup; nine Ohio state placewinners; and a strong freshman crop that has seven West Virginia junior state champions; a pair of OAC state champions; and 10 OVC middle school conference titlists.

∫ There are six seniors who are trying to become four-time placerwinners. They are Beaver Local’s Cole McComas, Skyler Lasure and Daniel Wirth; along with Steubenville’s David Tuttle; Hall and Roberts.

∫ Dover, New Philadelphia and Warren Local are competing in their first OVAC tournament. Hundred made its return after a long absence.

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