Caldwell grappler wins a major decision at ‘Clash of Champions’

ST. CLAIRSVILLE – It wasn’t the decision the OVAC All-Stars were looking for Tuesday night during the 19th annual “Clash of the Champions” inside St. Clairsville High School.

Dropping eight of the 13 matches – seven by decision – the locals came out on the short end of a hotly contested, 28-20, decision to Western Pennsylvania’s Midwestern Athletic Conference on John Jenkins Court.

“We were on the other side tonight as far as the last couple of years,” OVAC and Steubenville Catholic head coach Aaron Henry said. “We wrestled well. We lost a couple of close matches, but this is a great group of talent.”

Despite the loss, the OVAC still holds a 13-6 advantage in the all-time series, which dates back to 1988. It was held annually until 1995, and resumed in 2003, according to meet officials.

Trailing 9-0, the OVAC reeled off a trio of victories by University’s Isiaih Hood (132); Caldwell’s Kameron Rayner (138); and Union Local’s Zac Sowers (145).

Hood and Rayner, both 2014 Ron Mauck OVAC Tournament champions, scored major decisions to cut the gap to 9-8, and Sowers’ 4-0 blanking of Ellwood City’s Donnie Kerr gave the hosts the only lead of the night at 11-9.

“I just went out there to have fun,” Sowers, who was a Division III state alternate this past season, said. “I wasn’t worried about winning and losing, but I did want to score points for the OVAC.”

The Keystone Staters ran off victories in four of the next five weight classes to build a 25-14 lead.

South Fayette’s Grant Fetchet and Chartiers-Houston’s Derek Hull scored a pair of decisions over the Wheeling Park duo of Johnny Davis (3-1) and Eric Banks (9-2) at 152 and 160, respectively.

Steubenville Catholic’s Leon Hermann, also a Ron Mauck OVAC Tournament champion this season, stopped the bleeding when he rallied past Laurel’s Dalton Rosta, 6-5. Trailing 5-4 late in the match, the Crusaders’ senior, who will play soccer in college, recorded a takedown with 22.2 left and held on for the thrilling victory.

“That was great for Leo,” Henry said. “It was good for him to get a win in his last match. He had a really good season.”

The MAC regained the momentum as Ellwood City’s Brad Grinnen pinned Steubenville Catholic’s Lucas Borden in 1:25 at 182 and Montour’s Cole Macek, who finished sixth in the PIAA state meet last weekend, posted a 9-1 major decision over River’s Brett Rosen at 195.

The OVAC pulled to within a pin of winning the match when Wheeling Park’s Geremy Paige pinned Butler’s Will Bortas in a quick 1:20 at 220. Paige, another Ron Mauck OVAC Tournament champion, was named the OVAC’s Most Outstanding Wrestler for his short performance.

It all came down to the heavyweights, but Beaver Local’s Cody Martsolf, a last minute replacement for Brooke’s Preston Wise, dropped a 3-1 decision to Ambridge’s Calvin Sittig after leading 1-0 after two periods.

The MAC bolted to the 9-0 lead behind decisions by Trinity’s Tristan Buxton (113); Canon-MacMillan’s Brendan Price (120) and Hopewell’s Travis Sonson (126).

Buxton beat Caldwell’s Tyler Wiley 7-2, while Price nipped Oak Glen’s Josh Cornell, 3-2. Sonson earned a 10-3 nod over Barensville’s Austin Singleton.

Officiating the match were Jack Regis Sr. and Ray Marling.

South Fayette’s Fetchet was named the MAC Most Outstanding Wrestler.