Monroe Central unrolling mats as it revives wrestling program – Martins Ferry Times Leader

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NINE NEW head coaches have joined the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference wrestling family for the 2021-22 season. They were introduced during Monday night’s season-opening press conference inside WesBanco Arena. Pictured are, front row, from left, Willie Saxton (Toronto), Zach Goodman (Marietta), Lucas Huffman (Steubenville) and Rodney Richter (Monroe Central). Back row, from left, are Nate Starkey (Union Local), Matt McFarland (Bridgeport), John Lessner (Steubenville Catholic), Brian Hostetler (Magnolia) and Dennis Bowers (Southern Local).

WHEELING — After three years of collecting dust, they are once again rolling out the wrestling mats at Monroe Central High School.

Head coach Ryan Richter is excited about the ‘revival’ of the program, which had participated in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference since 1995 until discontinuing the program before the 2018 season.

“It’s been a long time. It’s definitely been hard,” he said. “You go to these tournaments and your home school is represented. I’m glad to see the program come back.”

Richter said he had 13 kids sign up.

“Hopefully, they all stick with it,” he said. “We’d like to have a full team.”

During its existence, Monroe Central had a pair of OVAC titlists in Christopher Wilson (145–2002) and Robby Dimmerling (171–2003). All told, 54 Seminoles reached the awards podium, with the school also having seven runnersup. The program also claimed its only OVAC mat crown (Class AA) in 2002-03 under head coach Paul Robinson.

Wrestling has been a family affair, of sorts, for the Richter’s.

“I was a 4-time district qualifier. My brother, Rodney who is my assistant coach, was a 3-time district qualifier, and our sister, Renee, is a senior wrestling at Adrian College in Michigan,” the head coach pointed out. “We just love to wrestle.”

As far as this year, it’s going to be a learning process, and Richter knows that.

“We’re going to be young and inexperienced. We just want to keep the kids interested in the sport and continue to give them the knowledge to improve every day,” he said of his expectations. “I’d love to say we’re going to win an OVAC title, but that might be shooting a little too far, but our kids are definitely going to try.

“Hopefully, we can keep the kids out and continue them through the program.”

Richter was one of nine new head coaches introduced during Monday night’s season-opening press conference inside WesBanco Arena. The Seminoles are also one of two new teams, which brings the total to 43 now. Marietta is the other newcomer.

New faces in the conference are Matt McFarland (Bridgeport), Brian Hostetler (Magnolia), Zach Goodman (Marietta), Dennis Bowers (Southern Local), Lucas Huffman (Steubenville), John Lessner (Steubenville Catholic), Willie Saxton (Toronto) and Nate Starkey (Union Local).

The conference also announced the dates for the annual OVAC Bill Hinegardner Dual Meet Championships. The Class 1A/2A and Class 4A events will be held on Wednesday, Jan. 26 at Brooke High School, while the Class 3A and 5A events will be held on Thursday, Jan. 27 at the John Marshall Fieldhouse.


— Steubenville freshman Talea Guntrum is listed No. 3 at 73 pounds in the national 12-and-under girls rankings by USA Wrestling.

— Four former OVAC champions are located in USA Wrestling’s pre-season forecast. N.C. State fifth-year senior Tariq Wilson (Steubenville) is fourth at 149, while Wisconsin freshman Braxton Amos (Parkersburg South) is sixth at 197. WVU sophomore Payton Hall (Oak Glen) is 15th at 165. Lehigh’s Josh Humphreys (Parkersburg South) is No. 10 at 157.

— West Liberty University and Wheeling University head coaches Danny Irwin and Daniel Ownbey, respectively, gave brief speeches. They schools wrestle each other Nov. 10.

— The conference needs help locating the following individuals for the 25-year reunion during this year’s OVAC Tournament. They are Ken Becker and Ben Kulpa of Wheeling Park; and John Cole of Beaver Local. Anyone with information can contact Steve Kish at (740) 683-1597.

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