WHEELING — University High’s Owen Zeiders battled through one of the largest high school wrestling tournaments in the country to claim the 145-pound Ohio Valley Athletic Conference championship Jan. 20, at WesBanco Arena.
Zeiders, a senior, defeated Beaver Local’s (Ohio) Beau Smith, 6-4.
“I thought it was great, and it wasn’t set in stone that Owen would get this far,” head coach Ken Maisel said. “He pins a good kid in the semifinals, and that kid he beat in the finals is a stud as the first seed. Owen showed a lot of effort in tough situations. Hopefully, that brings him into the rest of the season, which was good to see this time of year.”
Zeiders wasn’t the only Hawk to reach the championship match in his respective weight class. Jace Stockett (106) defeated Wheeling Park’s Isaak Murphy in the semifinals. Jake Staud (120) beat Steubenville’s Tyler Muldrew in the semis, and Jacob Simpson (126) beat Bellview’s Clayton Moore to get to the championship.
“It was great to have those guys in the finals, but that’s not what we’re about,” Maisel said. “We’re about winning those one-point matches. We’re sick of wrestling those kids close. The kids did a great job and effort was there, but we have to win those close ones. Getting out from the bottom is the biggest thing. You don’t have to understand wrestling to know that if you’re losing 1-0, you aren’t getting out from the bottom.”
UHS will face Point Pleasant and East Fairmont at EFHS, at 6 p.m. Jan 24.