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EASTERN OHIO WRESTLING LEAGUE Any team can win title this year

By Bill Sullivan

Saturday, January 31, 2004

The EOWL is stocked with talent, making this weekend's meet up for grabs.
ALLIANCE -- The competition for the Eastern Ohio Wrestling League team championship to be determined this weekend could be more wide open than the current race for the Democrat party presidential nomination.
In the 15-team field for the EOWL meet at Alliance High School, a wealth of individual talent makes predicting a team title treacherous business.
"It's wide open," said Austintown Fitch coach Brett Powell. "Any team can win the championship this year."
Overall, 47 of the 84 wrestlers who placed in the 2003 tournament are back this winter.
"There's no dominant team in the league this year," said EOWL commissioner Dave Crawford.
He said any of five or six teams could win the league crown -- Fitch, Beaver Local, West Branch, Alliance or Howland.
Another possible winner could be Brookfield, under first-year coach Scott Thompson, Crawford noted.
When pressed, Powell added Jackson-Milton to his list of teams to watch.
Beaver Local is the two-time defending champs and will return Adam Hoppel (215 pounds), a three-time EOWL champion.
However, the Beavers lost six wrestlers to graduation last spring so depth might be a concern.
Powell has the luxury of four returning league champs and a sophomore who had performed well all season on a rugged schedule.
Murray had injury
Joe Murray (senior, 171) missed some action recently due to a minor injury, but took fourth at the prestigious Top Gun tournament. He's twice placed in the state tournament.
Senior Eric Chine (189) took sixth at the Top Gun and was voted Outstanding Wrestler at the Josh Hephner meet. He placed sixth in the state in 2003.
Sophomore Nick Bodnar (130) won his weight class at the Hephner event after placing third at the Brecksville tournament. He qualified for the state as a freshman.
Junior Fred Weidenthal (160) took third in the Hephner and fifth in the Top Gun.
"They're the anchor for our team right now," Powell said of the four.
Powell's also hoping to get quality points from sophomore Joe Stryfeller, who took fourth place at the Hephner meet, a tournament Fitch just won.
"Kids like this make coaching so enjoyable," Powell said. "They make me want to coach for a few more years."
Long-time coach
He's been at it for 23 years, the last 19 at Fitch.
Two other returning EOWL champs are Howland senior Brandon Alexander, a 2003 state qualifier, and West Branch sophomore Andy Lamancusa.
There are six other athletes returning who hope to improve on their second-place finishes of a year ago.
Friday action begins at 5 p.m. and Saturday wrestling gets underway at 10 a.m., with the championship session set for 6 p.m.
Other teams in the tournament are Boardman, Canfield, Girard, Hubbard, Warren JFK, Liberty, Salem and South Range.
Saturday before the championship round, the inaugural class in the EOWL Hall of Fame will be inducted.