BELPRE - An outstanding season so far has earned Belpre a spot hosting the opening round of the Ohio Division III State Duals at 5 p.m. today in the Belpre High School gym.
The honor of hosting the Region 20-B quarterfinal round of the state-wide event - that finishes with the state quarterfinals through championship finals at Ohio State's St. John Arena in Columbus on Saturday, Feb. 8 - was accorded the Golden Eagle grapplers by virtue of being voted the top seed by the 11 20-B head coaches.
Today, Belpre will face the winner of the 5 p.m. match between No. 8 St. Clairsville and No. 9 Alexander 20 minutes after its conclusion.
A win would then pit Belpre against the No. 4 River vs. No. 5 Barnesville winner 20 minutes later.
"And if we win out Wednesday, we'll host the next round too, the regional semifinals and finals, next Wednesday (Jan. 29)," said Belpre head coach Scott Adams.
"But we're not taking anything for granted. We're a No. 1 seed, but that doesn't get you any wins. We have to take care of business on the mat."
In the other half of the 20-B bracket are two other area teams in No. 2 seed Caldwell and No. 10 seed Waterford.
"Our team this year has wrestled hard," said Adams. "I've pushed them and they've responded. We're 14-4 in dual matches and have done extremely well in tournaments too, despite only being able to fill 11 (of the 14) weight classes."
Belpre has been led this season by "some of our guys who have done pretty good," said Adams, singling out sophomore Gavin Stalnaker, 23-5 at 113 pounds; junior Manney Tullius, 29-3 at 138; junior Daniel Law, 30-1 at 145; senior Ethan Wiggers, 24-7 at 152; and senior Jamie Barrett, 23-7 at 195.
Also, "doing well at 160 pounds, coming on and winning matches," said Adams, has been sophomore Matthew Colvin (17-8), who started out the season at 170.
Plus, Adams has "some kids like (senior) Dakota McDaniel (at 285 pounds) and (sophomore) Alex Gainer (at 182) who don't have a lot of experience, but who seem to be coming on and winning matches as well."
Rounding out Wednesday's lineup for Belpre are senior Zach Davis at 120 pounds, sophomore Shane Whealdon at 170 and senior Hayden Lowe at 220.
Overall, "we don't have an easy schedule,"said Adams. "But I try to do that," he admitted.
And now, with only a month to six weeks left in the season, Adams said that "sometimes, the hardest thing to do is to get your team to peak at the right time."