The third time was a charm Saturday night for Buckeye Local's Nate Kirk and Martins Ferry's Damon Outward.
However, for differing reasons.
Kirk made his third trip to the championship finals of the Pepsi/Ohio Coatings Panther Classic Wrestling Tournament a winning one after settling for runnerup two previous times.
BUCKEYE LOCAL’S Nate Kirk has total control of Oak Glen’s Avery Flowers during their 132-pound championship match Saturday night during the Pepsi/Ohio Coatings Panther Classic in Connorville. Kirk prevailed 5-0 and was voted the Most Outstanding Wrestler.
MARTINS FERRY’S Damon Outward, left, has a grip on Oak Glen’s Kyle Mack during their 126-pound championship match Saturday night during the Pepsi/Ohio Coatings Panther Classic in Connorville. Outward won, 7-3.
The Panthers' senior posted a 5-0 decision over Oak Glen's Avery Flowers to claim the 132-pound crown. For his accomplishments, he was also voted the Most Outstanding Wrestler.
"I'm really happy to be able to win it my senior year," Kirk allowed. "To be named the outstanding wrestler is something that I always wanted to get. To do it my senior year is pretty special."
Kirk, the top seed who finished second his freshman and sophomore seasons, dominated from the outset and never let up in hiking his record to an impressive 39-7.
Outward became a 3-time titlist when he defeated Oak Glen's Kyle Mack, the top seed, by a 7-3 count.
The Purple Riders' senior standout was ahead 2-0 after one period and 6-3 entering the final frame.
It wasn't the first win for Outward over his Golden Bear opponent as he also sent him to the consolation brackets after their Ron Mauck OVAC semifinal bout.
"After I saw the seeds I was kind of upset with it, but I also used that as my motivation the entire match to prove that I am better than he is."
Outward captured titles as a freshman and sophomore, while finishing as a runnerup last year.
He is now a superb 33-4.
Four other local matmen came away with silver trophies. They included Bellaire's Nick Maffe (152), St. Clairsville's Dalton Nolte (160), Martins Ferry's Zac Coole (220) and the Red Devils Corey Ernest (285).
Maffe, the third seed who ousted No. 2 Josh Sokolowski of Buckeye Local in the semifinals, lost a 14-3 nod to top-seeded Dillon Shaw of Brooke.
Nolte, the No. 2 seed, was knocked off by fourth-seeded Josh Bahr of West Allegheny.
Cooke, the No. 3 seed, dropped a 3-1 decision to Avella's Jake Temple, the top seed who improved to 29-1.
Ernest, the No. 2 seed, lost a 6-5 heartbreaker to fourth-seeded Tyler Lever, of Fox Chapel, in a matchup that he never had much time to prepare for.
Due to the inclement weather conditions, the heavyweight bout was wrestled first to allow the Pennsylvania team to head home early.
Eight other local wrestlers placed in the top four of their respective weight class.
Buckeye Local, which finished fourth in the team standings with 195 points, had Sam Ronevich finish third at 113, while Sokolowski and JP Solomon each placed fourth at 152 and 182, respectively.
Martins Ferry ended up in 11th place team-wise with 154 markers.
The Purple Riders had Theo Zoumpoulidis (113) take fourth, as did James Wise (145).
St. Clairsville, which was eighth overall, had a pair of third-place finishers in Seth Benge (170) and Michael Furbee (220).
Bridgeport's Brad Tomolonis (170) finished fourth.
Brooke, with a trio of championships, took top team honors with 249 points, which was 15 ahead of Plum, Pa. Chartiers Valley, Pa., was third, and Oak Glen fifth.
Other championships included Fox Chapel's Jared Rice (106), West Mifflin's James Harrison (113), Brooke's Matthew Beaman (120), Charleroi's Nick Gavazzi (138), West Allegheny's Nate Hall (145), Chartiers Valley's Noah Wilps (170), Brooke's Skippy Scurry (185) and Plum's Jake DiGullo (195).
North can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org