STEUBENVILLE - If you're a fan of high school wrestling, then you need to be at the Crimson Center next Wednesday.
It will be Big Red and Claymont part II for the Division II, Region 12 team championship. The winner will advance to the state dual event at St. John Arena on the campus of Ohio State University. The action is set to begin at 7 p.m.
On Saturday, the Mustangs rallied for a win over the visiting Big Red, 31-25. A season ago, Mike Blackburn's grapplers earned a 25-24 victory in a match that went all the way down to the eighth tiebreaker criteria.
IT’S ALMOST OVER — Steubenville’s Mark Cole cradles Beaver Local’s Tyler Kelly on his way to a pin victory during Big Red’s 46-21 win over the Beavers during the OHSAA Division II,?Region 12 team tournament semifinals Wednesday at the Crimson Center.
-- Fred Younce
Big Red advanced in the OHSAA-sponsored event by besting Cambridge 54-21 and Beaver Local 46-21 Wednesday on the home mats.
"Our main goal definitely was to win the regional semifinals and get to that match with Claymont next week," Blackburn said. "Those are the kind of matches we want to be in. That's what we have been building for the last couple of years.
"It will be a really important match for us. This is first Ohio duals held in this format and we want to be in the top eight."
Blackburn noted Claymont went up on Big Red early last year before his wrestlers rallied for the win. At Uhrichsville on Saturday, the Mustangs came from behind.
"Going in, we weren't sure how we would match up with them," he pointed out. "But we matched up well. We gave up too many bonus points and didn't get enough of our own. It's going to be another great dual."
In the semifinal match against Beaver Local, Big Red fell behind early (18-13) before taking control.
The O'Dell brothers (Zach at 152 and Andrew at 160) got the Big Red rolling. Mark Cole (170) followed with a pin and Charlie Keenan (182) won by forfeit. Brandon Jones recorded a pin at 195 to make it 40-18 Big Red. Greg Moray then was awarded an injury default at 220.
Double winners for Big Red were Tariq Wilson (106), Anthony Craig (126), Anthony Parada (132), Andrew O'Dell, Cole, Keenan, Jones and Moray.
"You're always happy with wins over two good Ohio Valley Athletic Conference schools," Blackburn added. "I think, however, we might have wrestled better against Claymont. We might have come out a little flat.
"I'm not taking anything away from the competition but we made a lot of mistakes. We came away with two W's and we just have to keep working."
Before Blackburn's club, now 23-2 in dual action, can focus on Claymont, it has to deal with a huge trip to the Cleveland area Saturday.
Big Red, the OVAC champion, will participate in a quad match along with Lakewood St. Edwards, Blair Academy out of New Jersey and Marysville.
"We have a big one this weekend," Blackburn said. "Blair is ranked number one in the country, St. Edward's is ranked nationally and Marysville is ranked in Division I. We'll battle with the best and see what we can do."