Magnolia, Paden City and River Compete in Ovac Wrestling
Magnolia sophomore James Stillwagoner (182 lbs) wrestled in seven matches, winning four to claim sixth place in the 65th addition of the Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Tournament at WesBanco Arena on Jan. 18-20.
Few sports match the tradition in the Ohio Valley that’s put forth by wrestling. Some of that history was on display during the tournament. The annual opening ceremony included an Olympic-style procession of teams entering the arena floor. Each team was led by a special individual of the team’s choosing.
“We just asked that it be someone who made a significant impact on wrestling in their community or school,” said Dan Doyle, OVAC wrestling commissioner. “It could be anyone. A past coach, athlete, volunteer, whomever. Just someone the school believed to be very significant to their program.” From Magnolia, Ron Nice – who has and is still helping the Magnolia to be a very competitive wrestling program – was one of 41 representatives taking part.
Ryan Cross entered for the Paden City Wildcats, who just started their first wrestling season. Cross then handed the banner to Head Coach Mike Owens, who was then the Wildcats’ Representative.
For the River Pilots, Angel Armann and Willie Winkler represented the Pilots on behalf of their late husband and brother, respectively.
He was a four-year wrestler and placed fourth in the OVAC during his senior season.
Also, as part of the festivities, former River and West Liberty grappler Lucas Huffman won this year’s outstanding Assistant Coach of the Year from Steubenville High School.
After all the awards and parade of athletes, the wrestling began. The Blue Eagles’ Stillwagoner, Mikey Hamrick and Kyler Cecil all got wins via pinfalls, while the Wildcats’ Rander Amos got the party started for the Wildcats, earning their first-ever victory against Jeffery Sinclair of Morgantown with a pin in the third period.
Amos was in complete control with the help of coaches Owens and Shreves yelling out words of encouragement, as well as the huge contingent of Paden City residents on hand to witness the victory.
The second night, the River Pilots’ young Christopher Heavener (106 lbs) got the Pilots only win of the tournament with a pin over Cameron Johnson of Weir. Heavener lost his first match against the #1 seeded Jace Stockett of University, who ended up claiming runner-up in the tournament. After receiving a bye, he was finished in the tournament when he lost to #7 seeded Danny Yost of Brooke.
The Pilots other wrestler was Ethan Lively (220 lbs), who lost to the #3 seed, Daniel Wirth of Beaver Local. After a bye, Lively lost a tough 7-2 decision to Gabe McCardle of John Marshall.
The second night, Amos lost both his matches, losing to #5 seed, Logan Krulik and a close loss to Charles Smith of Beaver Local.
For the Wildcats, Doneven Clark lost to #5 seed, Mason Kunell of Bridgeport, before picking up the Wildcats’ second victory of the tournament from Paige Milhoan of Meadowbrook. He then was finished in the tournament when he lost to #11 seed, Jordan Dalby of Union Local.
Michael Shreves started his first match against the #6 seed, Brayden Starkey of Indian Creek. Shreves put up a good fight, but just ran out of time. He finished the tournament with a loss to Will Miller of University.
Other Wildcats competing were Bryce Hunt (145 lbs) and Ryan Cross, who both were beat by #1 seeds to open the tournament.
For the Blue Eagles, Stillwagoner was the only placement winner. He defeated Shayne Christian, Garrett Dunncan of Bridgeport, 8-3. He also won 3-1 over a very good Oak Glen wrestler, Kyler O’Conner, and the #6 seed, Anthony Mecum of East Liverpool, by a pinfall. He lost to #2 seed Victor Giovengo of Linsly, as well to #5 seeded Dakota Straton of Crestview, before losing to #2 seed Victor Giovengo of Linsly in the fifth place bout.
“I was very pleased on how we competed this weekend, and we are just overjoyed for James to have wrestled so hard and compete like he did for that many matches against top-notch competition,” said Head Coach Eric McKeever.
“He has worked really hard, as well as some others, but its difficult to enter the largest conference wrestling tournament in the country and be able to compete with only three days of practice since Dec. 29.
We weren’t necessary out-matched, but we were certainly at a disadvantage in multiple matches, due to lack of conditioning. My heart hurt for a few of my kids, especially my seniors who were ahead in matches, but just flat out ran out of gas due to lack of mat time and practice.”
Kyler Cecil (120 lbs) won his first match against Wyatt Conley of Weir with a pin, but lost his second match to the #7 seed, Hayden Johnson of Edison. However, he came back to win a thriller, 4-1, to Nathan Cox of Beaver Local before ending the tournament, losing to Caden Lundy of Oak Glenn.
Newcomer Jason Beisel looked like a beast in his wrestling debut, beating Logan Koncher of Oak Glenn. He was up 6-2 and was taking him down and releasing, until an accidental head butt, that kept him from continuing. He lost to #2 seed Jacob Simpson of University, before falling 8-5 to Canon Walker of Wheeling Park.
Gage Adams (138 lbs) lost his opener to #8 seed Brady Crum of Union Local, before winning a double overtime match against Arch Newman of Brooke. He then shortly after had to face #7 seed Branden Pauley of University, to finish his day.
“I was really impressed with Gage Adams, as he was able to get by a revenge match against his Brooke opponent by winning in sudden death ride in overtime. For those who don’t know, a match is six minutes and 30 seconds. A sudden death OT match is eight minutes and 30 seconds. Unfortunately, as the theme sets in, he had to come back an hour later and wrestle again, in which the lack of conditioning resulted in a loss,” stated McKeever.
Jack Booth (145 lbs) lost his first match to the #9 seed, Jordan Wood of John Marshall, in a very nice match, before losing by a pin. He then lost to Jaden Porter of Shenandoah. Booth was ahead and nearing a technical fall with a lead of 14-2 after an escape by Porter. Booth was about to get another take-down, but the official thought the hold was dangerous and gave the win to Shenandoah.
Mikey Hamrick (285 lbs) also had a nice tournament as well. He won his first match to Tommy Redman of St. Clairsville by a pin-fall, but lost a close 4-0 match to #6 seeded Zach Thomas of Beaver Local. He then won two straight victories by a pin, but lost to #8 seed Ryan Ekey of Madonna. He was one win from earning a slot in the placement round.
Other Blue Eagles wrestlers were Brody Cartwright (195 lbs) Devin Hawkins (132 lbs), who both lost their two matches against highly seeded opponents. Zach Ware was another wrestler who was prepared to wrestled, but an injury forced him out of the tournament before he could wrestle a bout.
Former Magnolia wrestler Kaleb Simpkins won the 170 pound championship winning three by pins and two by points, including 2-1 victory in the finals.