Picking winners in EOWL tourney

It’s generally never a good thing when a 285-pound wrestler points at you in disgust, but this time was a little different.

As former Girard wrestler Ben Norman walked off the mat following a close victory over a fellow heavyweight from Crestview, he pointed at a skinny little reporter and said, “You had him ranked ahead of me!”

Yes, yes I did.

Oops.

Not many things bother a wrestler like not being ranked accordingly, and most high school kids usually believe they should be first (or close to it). It’s understandable. They should be confident in themselves and believe they’re the best, but come on, rankings are just for fun. Well, most of them.

In wrestling, there isn’t an “official” set of rankings from the Ohio High School Athletic Association, so followers of the sport make their own. There are really two forms of rankings on the Internet that people follow — one is created by Borofanohio.net, and the other is done by InterMat Ohio Wrestling. They usually rank the top 15-25 wrestlers in each weight class of the three divisions.

Coaches use them to scout opponents. Journalists use them to add insight to articles, and wrestlers use them for fun — and motivation. Some kids find it insulting not to be mentioned, and that fuels them during workouts and matches. Yes, seriously.

I’ve seen state champion wrestlers who seek out the creator of the rankings within seconds of winning their title just to let them know they were wrong. They just won a state title, and their first thought is to call out a guy who’s really just trying to help the sport grow? Hey, whatever gets you going in the morning, kid.

Well, it’s time for me to be the fall guy again, but I’m not going down alone. After the “Norman Incident of 2015” I took a little hiatus from ranking wrestlers. As a close follower of the sport, I don’t consider myself an expert; I consider myself THE expert. No, not really, but I do believe I can hold my own when it comes to rating wrestlers for this weekend’s Eastern Ohio Wrestling League tournament at Austintown Fitch High School.

It’s not easy, with 26 teams and close to 300 wrestlers, but I’m willing to take a shot. And I’ll bet no one out there can beat me either (including Max Pierce, the EOWL associate commissioner, who often creates his own rankings), so I’m challenging Pierce and anyone else who thinks they can do better than yours truly.

No money is on the line, obviously, just bragging rights. A pair of friends gave me the idea for this, and then of course cowardly backed out of actually challenging me, so I’m looking to the public to put up a fight.

In Friday’s Tribune Chronicle, I’ll rank the top six wrestlers in each weight class, the top five overall teams and predicted team winners of each of the four divisions (the EOWL is made up of four tiers). Yeah, I know, it’s a lot of work, but everyone thinks they know everything when it comes to these events (I hear you in the stands), so here’s your chance to prove your worth.

The toughest part of ranking wrestlers is trying to find results for everyone. For those of you who are taking this seriously, try Baumspage, Track Wrestling, Sikora Soft Systems or simply search for a specific event in an Internet search engine to find results.

Email your picks to jsimon@tribtoday.com.

Again, have fun with it, but, um, you might want to watch your back for angry 285-pound wrestlers.

jsimon@tribtoday.com

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