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OVAC Wrestling Champs Named

By KIM NORTH

For The Intelligencer

The Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Dual Meet wrestling standings became official earlier this week and four Ohio schools found themselves on top of their respective division.

Steubenville (Class 5A), St. Clairsville (4A), Martins Ferry (3A) and Shenandoah (1A/2A) were crowned ‘paper’ champions as COVID-19 restricted the bi-state league from staging its annual Bill Hinegardner Dual Meet Championships.

Three of the four classifications were decided by five or more points, but the Purple Riders title came by the slimmest of margins over Barnesville. Martins Ferry finished 15-5 and garnered 59.750 points while the Shamrocks went 20-6 and finished at 58.269.

The Zeps are the only repeat winners. In fact, the Noble Countians four-peated as they also won Class 3A in 2018-19 and were 1A/2A titlists in 2017-18.

The Red Devils were the 2018-19 Class 4A champs. That was their first crown since 2009-10 when there were only four divisions. Oak Glen finished second.

“I was kind of waiting for someone to officially notify us. I didn’t know how many matches Oak Glen had for sure,” St. Clairsville head coach Joel Sansone said. “This is a great thing for our program, especially for our seniors. They texted me yesterday (Monday) wanting to know if I had heard anything yet.”

The Red Devils didn’t shy away from competition. In fact, they were a last-minute replacement at the Division II State Duals in Steubenville and took the request to face nationally ranked St. Paris Graham. Although things didn’t go so well, Sansone said his team learned from that experience.

“We wrestled against good competition all season,” he said. “That’s the only way you are going to get better, and i think, as a team,w e got better as the season progressed.”

Martins Ferry’s title is its first since winning Class 3A in 2011-12. The Purple Riders also prevailed in 2001-02 in 3A.

“This is good for our program because we are primarily a young team,” Martins Ferry head coach Chad Ware said. “Hopefully this pushes some of those young kids to get even better and want to try and win another title next season.

“I couldn’t be any happier for the kids, my staff and the entire program.”

Steubenville continued to rack up OVAC banners as it easily outdistanced Wheeling Park.

“It’s always great for the team and the seniors when you win any kind of an OVAC championship,” Big Red head coach Mike Blackburn said. “It’s a shame we couldn’t have the tournament or the duals.”

Steubenville went 20-0 against OVAC competition.

“We had a really good season considering everything that was going on.”

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