Alexander High will be a beehive of prep wrestling activity this weekend.
This is where the grapplers from Warren, Marietta, Belpre, and Waterford will be competing in the Division II and III sectional tournaments, which begin Friday and conclude Saturday.
The D3 Golden Eagles and Wildcats are scheduled to be on the mats on Valentine's Day at 5:30 p.m. while the D2 Warriors and Tigers follow at 6 p.m.
Times file photo
Warren 113-pounder Levi Congleton, on top, looks to pin his opponent during wrestling action this season. Congleton is a defending sectional champion and 2013 state qualifier.
Over at Barnesville High, Caldwell, Monroe Central, and Shenandoah will be wrestling in a Division III tournament, which gets underway at 5 p.m. Friday.
A lot is on the line, as at stake is a berth in the district tournament the following week. Only the top four wrestlers in each weight class will advance.
"It's a lot tougher in the sectional," said Warren head wrestling coach Mike Pahl. "I look for Athens to be the favorite.
"I hope we can qualify at least five wrestlers to district."
Last Saturday, Warren wrestled in the Southeastern Ohio Athletic League (SEOAL) championships at Gallia Academy. On Feb. 1, Marietta, Belpre, and Waterford all competed in its respective league events, so last week dealt more with preparation and healing for the sectional.
Defending league champion Warriors finished third in the SEOAL and crowned four individual winners - Levi Congleton (113 pounds), Casey Parsons (145), Austin Klintworth (152), and Brandon Pahl (285).
Gage Kaptis (138) was runner-up; Peyton Angelo (126), Wade Lynch (195), and Chris Massey (220) each placed third; and Peyton Young (160) was fourth.
Kenny White (182) did not wrestle due to a separated shoulder.
A year ago, Congleton was a 106-pound sectional champion, who later advanced to state in Columbus.
Brandon Pahl was also a 285-pound district qualifier after a third-place finish in the sectional. Massey also advanced to district with a fourth-place finish in the sectional.
"The higher you place in the sectional, the better it is for you at district," Mike Pahl said.
"If you're a champion, you'll get to face a fourth-place finisher at district."
Bill Heldman-coached Marietta had no sectional champions in 2013, but Garrett Davis did qualify for district with a 152-pound runner-up finish in the sectional.
This weekend, Davis (34-7) is expected to compete in the 170-pound weight division.
The Tiger sectional lineup will also feature senior Joshua Clark (106, 12-18), sophomore Logan Dickson (138, 3-21), senior Scott Bricker (145, 8-6), senior Josh Burke (152, 23-10), senior Jake Dickson (160, 25-9), and sophomore Anthony Winters (182, 12-19).
Belpre will be seeking to repeat as sectional champion, and with several returnees from that squad, it has a good shot. A couple of weeks ago, the Scott Adams-coached Golden Eagles were runners-up in the Tri-Valley Conference championships.
Gavin Stalnaker (113), Manney Tullius (138), and Hayden Lowe (220) each was a league champ.
The Golden Eagle lineup also includes Zach Davis (120), Daniel Law (145), Ethan Wiggers (145 or 152), Kole Counts (152), Matthew Colvin (160), Shane Whealdon or Jake Hall (170), Jamie Barrett (182 or 195), Alex Gainer (182 or 195), and Dakota McDaniel (220 or 285).
Stalnaker and Barrett are defending sectional champions, while Tullius was a runner-up. Law and Lowe finished third, and Colvin was fourth.
Scott Zimmer-coached Waterford will be led by senior Austin Lang, a defending sectional champion at 126 and eventual state qualifier.
Lang has moved up to 132, and is coming off a TVC third-place finish.
Also in the Wildcat lineup will be Blake Heiss at 182. Last year, he was a sectional runner-up.
Waterford's other TVC placers were Dalton Ball (126), Weston Wagner (145), and Cylus Reynolds (152).
Trey Berry (120), Zeb Offenberger (138), and Cody Malic (195) are also expected to wrestle in the sectional.
Last winter, Caldwell finished third overall in a 19-school sectional field.
With 2013 state placer Kameron Rayner back, the Tom Brown-coached Redskins are young but having another solid season on the mat.
Rayner, now a senior, owns a 39-3 record. He competes in the 132-pound weight division.
The Caldwell lineup will also include freshman Adam Schockling (106, 20-13), senior Tyler Wiley (120, 36-6), sophomore Kolby Rayner (126, 31-6), freshman Blake Pickenpaugh (138, 12-21), freshman Cody Davis (152, 11-19), freshman Sheldon Archer (182, 11-7), sophomore Clay Poling (195, 28-11), junior Tyson Cartell (220, 19-7), and sophomore Chance Rucker (285, 33-10).
"We have a few out with injuries," Brown said.
The Robert Muntz-coached Seminoles feature seven wrestlers on the roster - junior Rodney Richter (120), junior Chase Carothers (138), sophomore Patrick Craig (145), senior Hunter Connor (195), sophomore Tanner Potts (220), and heavyweight junior Colton Robinson and sophomore Justin Kilburn.