Indian Creek reflects on OVAC championship

STEUBENVILLE – Indian Creek wrestling coach Brandon Pendleton didn’t say he saw an OVAC championship coming, but he knew his wrestlers had a shot.

And, that’s all you can ask.

“We knew we were going to be competitive there,” Pendleton said. “We didn’t know how competitive we would be. And, they did surprise me.

“We’re young. We only have one senior (Daniel Hague, 132 pounds). We have a lot coming back. We’re looking to improve every match. They have done that, up to and including OVACs.”

The Redskins went 1-1 Wednesday evening in the OHSAA Tournament Duals inside the Crimson Center at Steubenville High School. They beat Salem (48-27) before losing to Big Red (68-3).

“We didn’t wrestle our best against Salem,” Pendleton said. “We came out cold, a little flat, but we started to put it together in the middle weights.”

Down 9-6 after three classes (only win a forfeit), Indian Creek strung together four consecutive wins by fall – by Mitch Wukelic, Hague, Miles Mazik and Devin Eakle – for a 30-9 cushion.

“Last year we came into these OHSAA Duals and didn’t win a single match against Canfield,” Pendleton said. “Beating Salem was a step in the right direction.

“We knew it was going to be hard wrestling Big Red. They are good. I just wanted our kids to go out and battle.”

Mazik was the only Creek wrestler to capture two wins. He beat Big Red’s Anthony Rice, 5-3.

“He’s wrestling well,” Pendleton said of Mazik, who has one loss.

“Miles put the time in during the offseason. He’s been in the weight room. He’s been in any wrestling room he can get into.”

Mazik now walks into a room as the OVAC champ at 138. He beat River’s Aiden Taylor in the quarterfinals, Caldwell’s No. 2 seed Kolby Rayner in the semifinals and No. 1 seed Jason Keyes of Beaver Local in the final.

“Even though he was the six seed, we knew what he was capable of,” Pendleton said of Mazik, who was the first Creek wrestler to claim an OVAC title since James Myers in 2007. “We wanted to get him in the opposite half of the bracket. And, if you get into the finals, anything can happen.

“It was a close match (for the title) and, since then, he’s won a lot of close ones.

“He had another close one tonight. He just finds a way to win them.”

Creek is now off until the OVAC Duals Feb. 4 at Steubenville High School. It leads the Class 4A standings.

“We’re a little tired, a little beat up,” Pendleton said. “We wrestled a lot of matches at West Holmes this past weekend. We didn’t have our best lineup out there tonight. We have some guys who are out.

“We get to rest up a little this week and get ready for the OVAC Duals.”

The Redskins will then wrestle in the Panther Invitational Feb. 6 at Buckeye Local High School.