PTC Wrestling Report: Dual meets showing their importance

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Coaches in wrestling often say its never good thing to take the measure of a team in early December.

The first two weeks of Portage Trail Conference wrestling season show why.

After Coventry seized the early Metro Division lead by upending Crestwood, the Comets gave the lead right back, thanks to a loss to Ravenna -- and Ravenna then promptly lost to Crestwood Thursday night.

That means the only teams the Metro Division that don't have losses are Streetsboro and Springfield -- and that's due to the fact that neither have wrestled a division match yet.

Streetsboro hosts a double dual with Field, Norton and Springfield Dec. 20. There's been no word yet on when the double dual at Springfield that was postponed due to skin infections will be made up.

Thus, Coventry and Crestwood each sit at 3-1 in the division and both should be favored in their remaining matches.

Rough translation: The PTC Tournament likely will be the deciding factor in the big school race.

Meanwhile in the County Division, Rootstown strong early season form looks to have them in command.

The Rovers moved to 2-0 in the division by defeating Mogadore 45-30 Thursday. Rootstown did so without the services of Jake Moore and Travis Linton, each of reached the podium at he prestigious Walsh Ironman Tournament the previous weekend.

However, the big news for Rootstown -- and Woodridge -- was the Bulldogs' 41-35 win over Southeast Thursday. It's the Pirates first division loss since moving to the County Division and gives the Rovers control over their destiny in the division.

That said, the Pirates and Rovers battle Saturday at the Canfield Duals and Rootstown had most of its lineup.

The result: A 41-31 win by the Pirates.

Once again, circle the Jan. 10 dual meet at Southeast with Rovers in red ink. The division title could be on the line.

Duals getting their day at the states

By counting a team's dual meet record as half of its division championship points, the PTC has always valued the dual meet.

That's not the case across Ohio, as many leagues use only their league tournament to determine their champions.

That's a shame, because just about every PTC coach has told me that dual meets are far more spectator-friendly that most tournaments. That means dual meets are the best way to present the sport to the general public.

However, the Ohio High School Athletic Association hasn't done much with the dual meet format -- until this year.

Perhaps the biggest news in Ohio wrestling this winter is the formation of the first ever State Wrestling Team Tournaments by the OHSAA.

The OHSAA will host team dual meet tournaments in all three division, dividing each division into eight regions. Each regional will contain 20 to 24 teams, which each region sending one team on to the state tournament.

The tournament will start Jan. 23 with regional quarterfinals, followed by regional semifinals Jan. 30 and regional finals Feb. 6. All regional matches will take place at individual school site.

The eight-team state tournament will take place Feb. 9 at St. John Arena in Columbus.

If nothing else, Wednesdays in late January -- previously the dog days of high school wrestling season -- just got a lot more interesting.

One of the coaches who is most happy to see this new state duals tournament become a reality is Aurora coach Dick Bliss.

Bliss has been coaching wrestling since the Nixion Administration and also has served as president of the Ohio Wrestling Coaches Association.

During his years with OWCA, Bliss said he had pushed the state for a dual meet tournament.

"I started campaigning for it 1978," Bliss said. "I'm so excited about it."

Bliss' pleas feel on deaf ears for decades, so he helped the OWCA form its own State Duals back in the 1993-94 season.

"Everybody loved it," Bliss said. "We lost $30,000 on it, but it was worth it."

Despite the financial losses of the initial event, the OWCA have continued as a one-day, eight team event until now.

Many local coaches say they are looking forward to the dual tournament to help re-estasblish wrestling's popularity.

E-mail: mleonard@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9442

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