There may not be any wrestling at the Summer Olympics in 2020, but there will be plenty taking place this weekend in the state of Ohio.
Sectional wrestling tournaments begin Friday and conclude Saturday, with area teams competing at three different schools, based on division. The top four placers at the sectional advance to next week's district tournament, where again, the top four placers move on, but this time they'll be on their way to the state tournament, which runs Feb. 28 to March 2 at the Jerome Schottenstein Center in Columbus.
Out of the 10 schools that have wrestling in Mahoning and Trumbull counties, only one wrestler - Howland's Gabe Stark - placed at the state tournament last year and returned this season. That will undoubtedly change in 2013 as the area is littered with state-ranked wrestlers.
Tribune Chronicle file photo / Dave Dermer
Austintown Fitch’s Tyler Bell works on a quick pin of Howland’s Tyler Hamilton during this Dec. 8, 2012 match. Both teams, along with other wrestling teams around the area, prepare for this weekend’s sectional action.
Those highly rated individuals begin their quest to Columbus on Friday. A more in-depth look at all of those wrestlers in Division I and II is on Page 2C, and Division III will be in Friday's Tribune Chronicle.
Area teams competing in Division I sectional tournament at Austintown Fitch are Boardman and Austintown Fitch. Both the Spartans and the Falcons have a rich tradition of wrestling - with each school boasting multiple state champions - and have several wrestlers with the ability to advance.
In Division II, Howland, Hubbard, Canfield and Poland compete at West Branch High School in what is arguably the hardest sectional wrestling tournament of any local team. The top three finishers in this year's Eastern Ohio Wrestling League Tournament - West Branch, Canfield and Howland - take part in the sectional, along with several other traditionally strong programs such as Crestwood, Marlington, Louisville, Southeast and Alliance.
"This sectional is deep and strong," Canfield coach Dean Conley said. "It'll be competitive and action-packed, that's for sure, but we think we're ready."
The same could be said for the Division III sectional at Rootstown High School, where Liberty, Girard and Jackson-Milton look to make some noise. Girard and Liberty each advanced five wrestlers to the district tournament last year, and the Blue Jays had four wrestlers move on.
Wrestling will begin at approximately 4 p.m. on Friday at all the sectional tournaments and will continue Saturday morning at various times.