OVAC Duals named after ex-JM mentor

MOUNDSVILLE – It’s ironic the Class 5A portion of the second-annual Ohio Valley Athletic Conference Dual Meet Championships was moved to the John Marshall High School’s Fieldhouse.

After all, Moundsville is where Bill Hinegardner made a name for himself as one of the top coaches in West Virginia prep wrestling annals.

So much so that the bi-state conference opted to rename the event the Bill Hinegardner OVAC Dual Meet Championships.

‘”It’s very nice and I’m looking forward to it,” Hinegardner said Monday.

This week’s action in all classes was supposed to have taken place Wednesday night at WesBanco Arena. But with Steubenville and Shadyside competing in regional finals of the inaugural OHSAA Team Tournament, action in Classes 5A and 3A was shifted to JM.

There, starting at 6 p.m., Wheeling Park battles Morgantown and the Monarchs face Brooke in what looks to be an exciting pair of Class 5A semifinals.

Also at 6 p.m., in Class 3A, Barnesville tangles with Monroe Central and River squares off against Tyler Consolidated.

Championship and consolation matches will take place immediately following the semifinals.

“I’m really pleased wrestling has taken its place among the power sports,” Hinegardner said in reference to the new wrestling events that have sprouted recently.

“It’s right up there with football and basketball as far as I’m concerned, and it’s getting stronger all the time.”

Steubenville High School plays host to the Class 4A and Class 2A/1A semifinals, finals and consolations Thursday. Those matches will also begin at 6 p.m.

Class 4A semifinals features Steubenville against Martins Ferry and Harrison Central vs. Oak Glen. In Class 2A/1A, Shadyside will battle Toronto, while Caldwell faces Steubenville Catholic.

Hinegardner found out the unexpected honor on the final night of the Ron Mauck OVAC Championships.

“They asked me to come out on the mat and I wondered what they wanted me for?” he recalled laughing. “Then when I stepped out, they explained everything and I understood.”

Hinegardner’s family was on hand, including son, Tim, who came in from Hershey, Pa.

“I thought he just came in to see the tournament,” Hinegardner said.

Hinegardner was a builder of champions and a maker of men as head coach of the Monarchs from the school’s inception in 1968 until 1982. Along the way, JM won four West Virginia Class AAA championships (1972-74, 79) and was second four times.

The Monarchs also won or finished second at the OVACs nine times. His program produced 20 individual state champions and an overall dual meet mark of 133-29-1.

Hinegardner received numerous coaching awards for his efforts at the local and state level. He is also enshrined in the OVAC Hall of Fame, as well as the state hall of fame.

“We were very fortunate,” Hinegardner said. “We had good athletes. We also had good people and a good staff.”

While he retired as head coach more than 30 years ago, Hinegardner can still be seen from time to time in the coach’s chair at JM meets. He and former coaches Ed West and Ed Dugas are still heavily involved with the program.

“It’s one of those things we enjoy,” Hinegardner said. “It’s fun for us, and I think that’s what keeps us coming back.”