Prep wrestling: What to know about sectional tournament

The journey starts in earnest this weekend.

After four months of battling through the regular season, wrestlers will see who can make their way to the pinnacle at the Ohio High School Athletic Association state tournament March 8-10.

Sectional tournaments started today and continue Saturday at several sites with the top four in each weight class advancing to the district tournament next weekend.

For some, the road is a familiar one they will be taking one last trip down.

For others, it is the start of what may be for the next three years.

It has been roughly 2,328 hours of practice, extra workouts and battling through a season that can be wrought with nagging injuries.

“Gold medals aren’t really made of gold,” wrestling legend Dan Gable said. “They’re made of sweat, determination and a hard-to-find alloy called guts.”

The first two ingredients of what Gable says gold is made of has been put in.

Now it is time for the third part to decide if gold will be the color wrestlers leave the season with.

Here are some things to watch as the Month of Champions begins:

Closing in: Fairfield senior Zach Shupp has a couple of items on his to do list that can be checked off along the way.

The first, could come as early as the sectional finals Saturday night while the other has to wait until the last night of the season.

Shupp enters the post-season with 140 career wins, four shy of Fairfield’s all-time win mark of 144 set by four-time state champ Willie Wineberg.

The second goal is taking that last step on the podium.

Shupp advanced to the state finals before falling in the title match at 106 in 2017. After spending most of the season at 113, Shupp is back at 106 for his final run at a title.

Skinner out: Division III projected state champion Cole Skinner will not get the chance to try for a trip to state.

Skinner, a member of the USA Junior World team, was taking classes online through ECOT.

His schedule had been approved by the OHSAA, however ECOT shut down causing a transcript issue with the OHSAA.

According to Madison coach Stan Oligee, Skinner would have been eligible to compete had ECOT sent the final transcript to the OHSAA to show work done and his scheduled classes for the remainder of the school year, however the organization never responded or produced a transcript, thus making Skinner ineligible under OHSAA by-laws.

“We were working on it right up until the entry window closed trying to correct things,” Oligee said.

Skinner was 6-0 on the season, missing time to compete with the world team and battling to try and get the transcript situation resolved.

Madison does have returning state placer Zach Banks returning and freshman Devin Oligee has come on strong, claiming the Southwestern Buckeye League title after entering the tournament as the third seed.

Building momentum: Ross is picking up confidence at the right time of the year.

The Rams followed advancing to the state semis of the team tournament with a strong second place showing at the Southwest Ohio Conference tournament.

Ross advanced seven to the championship finals with Austin Hamblin (182) and Alex Coleman (285) earning titles.

Moving up: Due to enrollment numbers, some teams will find themselves in different divisions.

Madison and Talawanda were both affected by the numbers with one moving up and one moving down.

Madison moves back to Division III after spending the past two seasons in D-II. The Braves, with returning D-II state placer Sean Mondello, move up to D-I.

Several sites: In Division I, Fairfield will travel to Hamilton to join the Big Blue in their sectional. Lebanon is also hosting a sectional, while Middletown, Talawanda, Edgewood, Lakota East and Lakota West travel to Centerville.

Badin and Ross are at Batavia in D-II while Monroe is at Graham.

Madison and Carlisle are at Lehman for D-III action.

Wrestling started Friday and resumes at 10 a.m. Saturday. Finals are scheduled to start roughly 45 minutes following the completion of the consolation rounds.

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