Golden Eagle matmen poised for sectional

BELPRE – Coming off a runner-up finish at the TVC tournament, Belpre head wrestling coach Scott Adams is confident his Golden Eagle mat squad is prepared for the Ohio Division III sectional tournament today and Saturday at Alexander High School in Albany.

Sporting a team that has five district qualifiers from last year when Belpre won the sectional championship, Adams, however, knows this year will be tougher to repeat that feat what with no Golden Eagle grapplers in three weight classes. “We can still do it, but we’ll have to wrestle well of course and get all the kids we can into the finals,” he said. But Adams knows too that it’s not imperative necessarily to win the sectional, it’s how many wrestlers Belpre can advance to the district tournament, which is one step from the state tournament.

Belpre has been without junior Daniel Law, who was 30-1 when he suffered a severe season-ending knee injury on Jan. 21. “So we had to make adjustments in our lineup by moving some kids around,” said Adams.

Senior Ethan Wiggers (29-10) moved down from 152 pounds to 145, where Law was. Sophomore Kole Counts (12-12) moved into 152 from 170. Sophomore Jake Hall (2-5) came back from an injury to claim the 170 spot, and senior Jamie Barrett (27-10), at 195 the last two years, went down to 182.

“So we were able to jockey those positions around with pretty good results since,” said Adams. “We’ve got a good chance. Our kids are ready. I think we’re going in as the front-runner with the season we’ve had, because this team doesn’t embrace losing.”

At 113 is Gavin Stalnaker (26-8), a returning state qualifier at 106 last year as a mere freshman, while senior Zach Davis (20-19) is at 120, and junior Manney Tullius (33-5) at 138, “with all five of his losses to some very good kids,” said Adams.

Sophomore Matthew Colvin (20-11) is at 160, “where he’s wrestled pretty strong,” said Adams, who looks for Barrett, a three-time district qualifier, “to have a good shot to get to the district again.”

At 195 is sophomore Alex Gainer (18-14), who “has shown promising improvement as the year has gone along,” said Adams, while senior Hayden Lowe (15-12) is at 220, down from heavyweight the last two years, “where he’s had a strong season,” said Adams, and at heavyweight is senior Dakota McDaniel (15-15).

Last year besides Stalnaker and Barrett, other Belpre district qualifiers were Tullius, Colvin and Lowe, also along with Law.

The Golden Eagles’ TVC champions this year were Stalnaker, Tullius and Lowe.