New goal for prep wrestling programs

By doug Chapin

There is something new in the works for area wrestling teams — with an emphasis on teams — to shoot for in the 2012-13 season.

The Ohio High School Athletic Association is implementing a dual-meet or team state tournament to go along with the traditional individual state tournament format.

In the traditional tournament, which begins the week of Feb. 11 with sectional meets, the scoring and placement of a team depends on the placement of individual wrestlers. District tournaments are scheduled the week of Feb. 18 and the state meet is Feb. 28-March 2 at Ohio State’s Schottenstein Center.

Area teams boast five returning state qualifiers. Boardman’s Nick Mancini (Sr., 106 pounds) is a two-time state qualifier and is joined by Canfield’s Korey Frost (Jr., 113), Howland’s Gabe Stark (Sr., 138), West Branch’s Connor Sharp (Sr., Hvy) and Beaver Local’s Josh Henderson (Sr., 106). Sharp placed third at state last season and Stark was fifth.

Three area state qualifiers from a year ago have graduated: Max Brookes (160, 4th place) of South Range, Nico Graziani (160, 5th place) of Boardman and Robby Klose (145) of Howland.

In the new team event, which begins Jan. 23, teams will square off head-to-head in dual matches with the winner advancing and the loser seeing its tournament bid end. To enter the tournament a team must be able to fill at least eight of the 14 weight classes.

“Teams with a lot of depth should go far,” Boardman coach Dom Mancini said about the new format. “Dual-meet coaching is different, you can move kids around and you use different strategy. We will participate but if we get a couple of wins we’ll be happy. It will be difficult to punch through our region.

“We’re built more for the traditional individual tournament.”

A coach who is looking forward to the dual-meet tournament is Liberty’s Hadi Hadi who has 30 wrestlers on his Division III roster.

“We’ve got a lot of juniors and seniors in the lineup who have wrestled a lot and we are very deep,” he said. “That helps when it comes to the dual-team tournament and in individual duals. You have more flexibility and we can maneuver more in duals.”

According to the OHSAA, the state will be divided into eight regions each having approximately 24 teams (per division). Each region will be geographically subdivided in half. Each half-region will seed four teams.

Regional quarterfinals will be held at the highest-seeded schools on Jan. 23. The winning two teams will advance to the Regional semifinals on Jan. 30. One team from each semi-final will advance to the regional finals held on Feb. 6.

Eight regional champions per division will meet on Feb. 9 to wrestle for the OHSAA Dual team championship. The state tournament site is yet to be determined.

Area schools will again compete in the Eastern Ohio Wrestling League which is divided into four divisions. I — Fitch, Boardman, Canfield, Howland, Beaver Local; II — Hubbard, Salem, West Branch, Alliance; III — Poland, Liberty, Girard, Jackson-Milton, Brookfield; IV — South Range, Columbiana, Crestview, Grand Valley, Pymatuning Valley, Jefferson.

Each team will compete for a division title based on dual meet results against divisional opponents. The overall league championship will be determined at the league tournament Feb. 1-2 at Boardman.

The All-American Conference will have two tiers for wrestling. The Red Division includes Fitch, Canfield, Howland and Beaver Local. The White Division consists of Poland, Hubbard, Liberty, Girard and Jefferson. The best record in head-to-head competition will decide the champion of each division.

For the state tournaments the area lineup is Division I: Boardman and Fitch; Division II: Canfield, Poland, Hubbard, Howland, West Branch, Salem, Beaver Local and East Liverpool; Division III: Liberty, Girard, Brookfield, South Range, Jackson-Milton, Columbiana, Crestview and Wellsville.

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