Since 1969 the South Central Ohio League has been crowning individual and team champions in its conference.
Wilmington won the first two league titles and then Circleville went on a tear throughout the 1970’s, winning 10 consecutive championships from 1971 through 1980. Brent Bell, an ultra-calm wrestling coach, guided the Tiger dynasty in its hay day.
Miami Trace finally ended their streak with their first league title in 1981 under the direction of a fiery high school math teacher and wrestling coach by the name of Bob Mowrey.
Teays Valley would begin an interesting dominance for the next three years winning the SCOL team title outright for two years and tying with Miami Trace in another from 1982-1984. The Vikings were led by Bruce Hulme who later earned his Ph.D and became a Superintendent in northeast Ohio.
It was Hillsboro’s turn next under Nick Valentine and Dean Armstrong. Both grew up in the talent-rich northeast Ohio region. They won two titles in 1984 and 1985. Nick went back north to Akron Norton where he became a long time principal at their high school. Dean stayed local and has been a transportation director for the Hillsboro City School District.
Ron Sexton guided the Wilmington wrestling program to three SCOL titles to conclude the 1980’s. The ‘Canes bested Hillsboro, Miami Trace and Washington in epic battles. He would turn the program over to assistant Jeff Wiederhold to become a high school principal and superintendent in the same district he was head wrestling coach.
The Panthers from Miami Trace started a run at winning titles in 1990 with Dan Roberts as the head coach. He had taken over the program from Bob Mowrey in 1988 and won two SCOL team championships before departing like so many others to enter educational administration.
Mowrey would return to the helm in 1992 to win the last SCOL title contested from 1993-2003. The SCOL was reformed in the fall of 2003.
The 2004 SCOL title and the next five of six SCOL wrestling championships were won by Miami Trace with a series of coaches including Bryan Sheets, David Dietrick and Jack Anders. Sheets won three individual SCOL titles as a Miami Trace wrestler. He won another two as a head coach. As you might guess, some of them moved on from coaching into administration.
Sheets is currently the Miami Trace High School Assistant Principal. Dietrich serves as the HIllsboro High School Athletic Director.
Dan McSurley, famed OHSAA State Champion football coach, mentored the Clinton-Massie Falcon wrestling team to their sole SCOL title in 2011.
Louis Reid and his Washington Blue Lions dominated the field in 2012 winning their first SCOL title. His formidable team also won a Division II Sectional and District title later in the 2012 season. They remain the only team in the past 15 years, other than St. Paris Graham, to win a Division II Southwest/Southeast Ohio District title.*
Jack Anders then positioned the Miami Trace Panthers to begin a three-year reign as SCOL wrestling champions. If they are to win a fourth consecutive crown in 2016; it will be under the tutelage of first-year coach, Ben Fondale. Anders opted to coach the junior high program this year.
The South Central Ohio League is a competitive wrestling league with teams from four counties. (Clinton, Fayette, Highland and Ross) The close proximity of the teams from the towns of Wilmington, Washington, Greenfield, Hillsboro, Chillicothe and the surrounding villages make for a wonderful-and natural-rivalry.
*Graham was assigned to the Northeast Ohio District in 2012 by the OHSAA.
This year’s tournament is set for Saturday at East Clinton High School.
Prelims begin at 5 p.m.; semifinals and consolations are scheduled for 6 p.m. and the championship finals and consolation finals are set for 8 p.m.