New state championships are at stake this weekend in Columbus.
That's when the Ohio High School Athletic Association hosts for the first time the state duals wrestling championships.
"This is new ground everybody is treading on," Clay coach Ralph Cubberly said of Saturday’s inaugural event, which will be held at Ohio State University's St. John Arena.
The Ohio High School Wrestling Coaches Association had held state duals championships in past years. Yet, the tournament lacked a statewide appeal that is expected to come along with OHSAA's stamp of approval.
"When you're talking about a true OHSAA title, that becomes a little more important," Wauseon coach Mike Ritter said. "It's more structured and they're in charge. It's more organized and they crown a champion. It [OHSAA] makes it more real."
Ritter's team was knocked out of the Division II state tournament by Central Catholic 35-25 in a regional semifinal.
Clay (D-I), Central Catholic (D-II), Archbold (D-III), and Delta (D-III) entered the week as regional finalists.
Archbold coach Brian Becher, who led the Blue Streaks to a D-III state team championship in 2004 (coaches association tournament) and a runner-up finish last year, said the OHSAA's involvement can expand the notoriety beyond the avid wrestling crowd.
"This garners a little more respect and prestige with those outside of wrestling," Becher said. "As coaches, it doesn't really matter to us. We just want to go out and win."
Cubberly, whose team recently romped its way to a Three Rivers Athletic Conference title, believes the decision by the OHSAA is a good one for the sport.
"I like the idea," said Cubberly. "It's good, and it's a change to get more fans involved."
A large, spirited crowd turned out for the Clay’s regional semifinal against Perrysburg, in which the Eagles prevailed 34-25.
"I like the team idea because it's another chance to get more fans involved," Cubberly said. "The team really likes it. Everyone's combined effort equals a team victory. There's a goal at the end. It's to be state champions."
Ritter also thinks the OHSAA's involvement helps with drawing greater fan support to wrestling. He believes team sports typically draw greater support and school spirit than individual competition.
"It's a really good thing for the sport because dual meets create a much better fan friendly environment for the sport," Rittter said. "I think it builds excitement for the sport."
However, the state team tournament hasn't come with a few drawbacks.
In some instances, it has created a dilemma with how coaches approach the end of the season. Coaches and wrestlers previously spent most of the end of the season focusing on trying to compete for individual state titles, which is a seperate tournament.
"We're having to figure this out schedule-wise," Delta coach Anthony Carrizales said. "Our big thing was always shooting for the individual state tournament and getting them ready for the end of the year.
"Now there's a balancing act and you have to take a week to focus on a state championship run. We're in a situation where we're still more into the individual state championships."