EAST LIVERPOOL - The Potters are taking a much-deserved break from the mat.
The East Liverpool wrestling team spent Friday and Saturday competing at the Big Dawg Duals Tournament out at Tri-Valley High School.
As a team, the Potters finished the tournament with a record of 4-6, but despite the tough team record, the Potters received multiple strong individual performances.
East Liverpool head coach Chad Hager said this was the first time the Potters took part in the event.
"This was the first time we go in the Big Dawg Duals," he said. "I thought it was a good opportunity for the kids to meet competition that don't normally see from outside of the valley. There were 20 teams at the tournament. We wrestled five duals on Friday, and we wrestled five duals on Saturday. We were able to get a lot of wrestling in."
At the tournament, East Liverpool defeated John Glenn (42-30), Utica (48-33), Maysville (46-30) and Hawken (54-24). East Liverpool lost to Akron Coventry (35-31), Watkins Memorial (55-12), Sheridan (63-13), Marlington (60-15), Norwayne (57-24) and Springboro (48-36).
"Not bad," Hager said asked how things went overall for his team at the tournament.
Individually, Frankie Williams (132 pounds) went 9-1, while Alex Potts (106/113) and Cody Oiler (120/126) both went 8-2. Williams won all nine of his matches via pinfall.
"We had a couple of injuries going into Saturday, and we added a couple more on Saturday," Hager said. "Our dual scores didn't go as well as we would have liked, but we did have some good individual wrestling."
None of the teams the Potters wrestled were from the local area.
"We wrestled teams we don't get to see throughout the season," Hager said. "We saw teams from the Dayton area. They were all good teams. It is good to wrestle against good competition constantly."
Facing stiff competition during the season will help the Potters throughout the rest of the season heading into the postseason.
"It will definitely help us in the postseason," Hager said. "It will help us for the OVAC Tournament also."
The Potters entered the season with high expectations, and the team has delivered a solid season so far this year.
"I'd have to say the season has gone pretty well," Hager said. "Again, we are excelling in certain weight classes. We have kids stepping up.
"Team-wise, we are not big number-wise this year. We don't have depth in some weight classes, and that has hurt our lineups. We have had to bump kids around. We have had to forfeit some matches which never helps to win a dual."
Hager said his healthy wrestlers are doing well this season.
"They are doing very well," he said. "They are about where we thought they would be.
"The Tri-Valley Tournament was our last bit of competition before the OVAC Tournament. We are going to use the time off as a rest up period. There is a little more learning we need to do. Things are going very well. Of course there is always room for improvement. We are hoping to get better going into the OVAC Tournament, the rest of our season and then on into the postseason."
The OVAC Tournament will be held Jan. 17-19 down at WesBanco Arena in Wheeling.
Hager said he is unsure of how long the injured wrestlers will be out of action.
"We are still waiting to hear," Hager said. "They are going to visit the doctor, and we will have to see if the doctor releases them or not, or to see how injured they are. We have a two-week period of time off before the OVAC Tournament, so hopefully they will be able to use the time to rest up and they will be able to compete."
The Potters have not faced a lot of OVAC competition so far this season.
"Normally, we see a few at the St. Clairsville Holiday Tournament, but we didn't go down there this year because of the weather," Hager said. "We missed out on a few matches there. Those matches always helps with seeding for the OVAC Tournament.
"We are not too familiar with teams from the OVAC this year. That could be good. That could be bad. We are just going to go in and wrestle our hardest, and we will see where we end up."
The Potters are hoping their break will serve only to benefit the team down the stretch.
"Two weeks can be a little long," Hager said. "I think the break has come at a pretty good time for us as a team. We have some injuries right now, but we also have some wrestlers who are on a roll right now.
Frankie Williams, Alex Potts and Cody Oiler have all been wrestling really well. John Miscuk was also wrestling well, but he is one of the ones who is injured. He needs the time off.
"You hate to see wrestlers who are wrestling so well have to take time off, but we will use this time off to learn and to improve. We should be fine going into the OVAC Tournament."
The Potters will have one of their biggest matches of the year after the OVAC Tournament. East Liverpool will wrestle Oak Glen in a dual at Potter Fieldhouse. The dual meet between the Potters and the Golden Bears will be held at 6 p.m. Jan. 31.
Following the OVAC Tournament, East Liverpool will wrestle at the Buck Bailey Tournament Jan. 26 at Wellsville.
"After the OVAC Tournament, we will wind the season down with a dual meet against Oak Glen at East Liverpool," Hager said.
"It is always a big night whenever we wrestle a rival whether it is Beaver Local or Oak Glen. It has been a few years since we have beaten Oak Glen.
"It should be a good dual meet. Hopefully we are strong and healthy by then. We are also going to have the junior high meet before the high school meet. Hopefully, it will be a good meet for the junior high and the high school."