- Marc Pendleton Staff Writer
The area’s go-to midseason wrestling tournament will return to a familiar site this week when the Greater Miami Valley Wrestling Association Holiday event returns to Butler’s Student Activity Center in Vandalia.
The two-day meet begins at 11 a.m. Wednesday and concludes with the championships finals at approximately 5 p.m. Thursday, or 45 minutes after the consolation semifinals. The event is a major fund-raiser for the association with proceeds going to scholarships and its annual postseason banquet and awards.
The mega-meet previously was held at Butler, the University of Dayton Fieldhouse and most recently Wright State University’s Ervin J. Nutter Center.
Defending overall team champion Graham is among the 48 teams committed to the tournament. The Falcons are loaded with five returning Division II state champions and earlier this month placed second to Blair Academy of New Jersey at the prestigious Walsh Jesuit Ironman tourney at Cuyahoga Falls. Most online national wrestling sites rank Blair No. 1 in the nation and Graham among the top five.
Also committed to the GMVWA event is Buford (Ga.). The Wolves are coached by Tom Beuglas, who led Georgia state power Archer to a defeat of Graham in the 2013 Holiday tourney.
All the teams will compete in combined brackets. An overall champ, big-school and small-school champs will be crowned. Dublin Coffman is the defending big-school champ.
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The meet also coincides with a midseason addition of two pounds to all 14 individual weight classes. That went into effect on Monday.
“Really, more now it’s become not weight cutting, but weight management,” said veteran Butler coach Mark Peck. “Now, kids are technically pretty good because they don’t worry about weight cutting.”
Peck’s host Aviators ventured to the Southwest Wrestling Coaches Association tournament last week at Harrison and placed fourth, besting area teams Beavercreek, Centerville and Springfield. That event is the Cincinnati-area’s equivalent to the GMVWA Holiday tourney.
Butler sophomore Logan Hoskins (120 pounds) won at the Classic and is a returning D-I state qualifier. He’s 12-0 with eight pins.
Butler senior Ronnie Pietro (10-3 at 132) was third at the Classic and is a defending Holiday champ. Butler also has the Love brothers, sophomore Jestin (152), a Holiday returning runner-up, and Janson (182), a senior who won at the Classic. Justin Love is 14-1 with eight points and Janson Love 10-2 with seven pins.
“We’re getting better but we’re not at 100 percent healthy,” Peck said. “I’m not sure anybody is. It’s still pretty early and it’s tough to fill 14 spots with healthy wrestlers at this time of the year.”
Springfield senior Joe Cochran (220) is 11-0 with four pins. He was fourth in the D-I state meet at 195 last season.
As usual Beavercreek will skip the tournament in favor of the 42nd annual Medina Invitational. That event typically draws the best individuals and teams from northern Ohio. Also, Fairmont will participate in the Brecksville tourney, another high-end northern event.