WELLSBURG — St. Clairsville repeated as OVAC Bill Hinegardner Class 4A Dual Meet Wrestling champions Wednesday night, but this time feels a whole lot better as the Red Devils accomplished it on the mat and not paper. The event was canceled last winter and the champions were crowned by virtue of the final standings.
Head coach Joel Sansone’s top-seeded squad defeated No. 4 Harrison Central, 51-27, in the semifinals before holding off No. 2 Indian Creek, 43-25, in the championship match inside Brooke High School. The Redskins had rallied past No. 3 Oak Glen, 43-30, in their semi. The Golden Bears then took down the Huskies, 54-30, in the third-place match.
“Any time there is something decided on the mat and you have two tough teams going for it, it’s always nice to come out on top,” Sansone said. “We kind of figured it was going to be Indian Creek in the finals, but Oak Glen took them right to the end. We liked our matchups. We felt where we were good, they were good too.”
Each team had a huge win in the championship bout as St. Clairsville’s Caden Stout avenged a loss to Dom Paterra in the OVAC Ron Mauck Wrestling Championships earlier this month with a 9-5 victory Wednesday. The decision gave the Red Devils a seemingly comfortable 31-9 advantage with half-a-dozen weight classes remaining.
“I couldn’t win it for myself in the OVAC finals, so I thought no better way than to help my team win,” Stout explained of his hard-fought win. “We knew it was going to be a tough, close match, and that one win could decide it.”
However, like it did against Oak Glen in the semis, Indian Creek stormed back as Reese Spencer posted a major decision at 160, and after St. Clairsville’s Gavin Schoolcraft pinned his opponent in 1:34, the Redskins needed four pins to draw even.
Ethan Llewellyn trailed Brennan Stout 6-2 after one period before taking control in the second period and winning by pin in 3:51 to make it 37-19.
Indian Creek’s Austin Starr, an OVAC Ron Mauck champion, cut into the deficit even further with a 37-second pin at 195, but St. Clairsville’s Cody Stecyk battled his way to a 3-1 loss that actually sealed the deal.
“By Cody not getting pinned, that allowed us to get the win,” Sansone said. “We talked about dual meets during a roll-around earlier today. We told the kids about saving points. Losing a decision is better than losing a major decision and being technical falled is better than getting pinned.
“I’m really happy with the way we wrestled tonight. We knew St. C. was going to be a tough match,” Indian Creek head coach Brandon Pendleton said. “We dug ourselves a hole and we knew that coming in with back-to-back forfeits to start, but the guys kept battling and we had a chance to tie it down the stretch.”
Pendleton was real pleased with Llewellyn.
“He turned the match around real quick,” Pendleton said. “He’s really coming around.
“We know what are top guys can do and we’ve got some guys that aren’t quite there yet, but they wrestled well and we’re improving.”
Other winners for the Red Devils were Dylan Lodge (106), OVAC Ron Mauck titlist Gannon Kazmirski (113), Zach McKeever (126), Harrison Kazmirski (132), Darshan Howard (138) and Ryan Ivey (185). Lodge and G. Kazmirski both won by forfeits, while McKeever earned a major decision. H. Kazmirski, Howard and Ivey all getting pins.
Howard’s pin came in just 19 seconds and drew praise from his head coach.
“Darshan was in the varsity lineup for the first time and he went out there and got the pin. That was impressive,” Sansone said. “Zach wrestled well.”
This is the third under Sansone. The other coming in 2018.
Like it did against Indian Creek, Oak Glen started off strong by winning the first six matches, but faltered down the stretch in going 1-1.
“I kind of figured we might jump out 30-0 but all we needed to do was win one match after 145, but we didn’t,” Oak Glen head coach Patrick McGillian said. “Indian Creek is a quality team with some highly ranked wrestlers. We’ll see them again in a couple of weeks.”
St. Clairsville is back in action Saturday as it travels to New Lexington for the Jimmy Wood Classic. Harrison Central, Indian Creek and Oak Glen are entered in the Panther Classic at Buckeye Local on Saturday.