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State duals: Centerville, Mason know each other well

Centerville wrestling coach Alan Bair readily admits to having a strong competitive fire. There is not much – within the rules – he won’t do to come out on top.

“I have an internal competitive drive, I always have,” Bair said as his Elks prepared to host second-seeded Mason for the Region 7 title in the first OHSAA state team tournament tonight at 7.

“I have pressure on myself to be successful, so yes I want to win. I hope we win so our kids can go to Columbus this Saturday and participate with the best wrestling teams in the state.”

Well aware of Bair’s passion for victory are the opposing coaches.

Bair and Mason coach Craig Murnan wrestled together at Miami University along with Mason assistant Jason Staggs. Centerville assistant coach Andrew Monk and Mason assistant Thik Phou were teammates at Lakota and both Bair and Murnan were coached at some point in time by Van Reid.

“Everyone in wrestling pretty much knows everyone else. You spend time with each other at the tournaments that take all day, you go on trips in the summer,” Bair said. “So you know each other well, that’s probably why you like to beat each other.”

The difference between Centerville, the Greater Western Ohio Conference champ, and Mason, the Greater Miami Conference champ, may come down to bonus points. To tip the scales, Bair is hoping the crowd rivals that of the Elks’ showdown with Fairmont last season when the entire lower level at Centerville was filled and some of the upper level as well.

“It is really exciting, we are trying to create an excitement like a college football game,” Bair said. “We need the help of our community and student body.”

Other matchups: Coldwater and Versailles are used to facing off on the gridiron in the state playoffs; now the Midwest Athletic Conference rivals will take to the mat to settle the Division III Region 24 title. Of the 24 Versailles wrestlers, 19 are also football players.

Ross will entertain third-seeded Hillsboro in the Division II Region 15 title match. “I think it will be very exciting,” Ross coach Rich Dunn said. “There are six or seven matches that could easily go either way.”

Top-seeded Graham will host second seed Carroll for the Region 16 title in D-II while Sidney travels to Oregon Clay in a battle of top seeds for the Region 1 title in D-I.

Winners from each regional final advance to the state tournament at St. Johns Arena in Columbus on Saturday.

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