Grafton and Robert C. Byrd appear to be the odds-on favorites at the 2001 Big 10 Wrestling meet set for today at Lewis County High School.
Robert C. Byrd coach Steve Daniels tagged the Bearcats as "the favorite."
"We've got four or five kids who have a chance, but for overall team depth and talent, Grafton has to be the favorite," Daniels said. "They've got three kids who I believe have legitimate shots at being state champions."
Grafton coach Rod Auvil threw in host Lewis County as a possible contender, too.
"We haven't gone head to head with RCB, so I'm not sure how we stack up," Auvil said. "But I look for them and Lewis County to be up there."
Leading the Bearcats are 119-pound Corey Auvil and the Leach brothers, Chris (140-pounds) and Adam (135-pounds). Auvil and Chris Leach are both 32-0, while Adam Leach brings a 30-2 mark into the tournament.
Heavyweight Kenny Hollenback (30-2), a transfer from Wyoming East, and 215-pounder Michael Keener have also had outstanding seasons.
"Corey and Chris are our senior leaders," Auvil said. "They are both three-time Big 10 champions in their weight classes, and Adam is a two-time defending champion.
"Kenny finished sixth in the state tournament last year at Wyoming East."
Robert C. Byrd is led by senior Jeff Mayer, who competes in the 125-pound weight class. Junior Scott Gonzalez is expected to battle Chris Leach for the 140-pound title, while freshman Michael Madia has put together a fine season but must get past Auvil.
South Harrison features one of the top wrestlers in the state in 160-pound Drew Toth while Lewis County's Freddy Persinger is one of the top heavyweights in the state and has handed Hollenbach both of his defeats.
In addition to the four schools already mentioned, Philip Barbour and Liberty will field teams.
Gates will open for the tournament at 7:30 a.m. Weigh-ins will take place from 8-9 a.m. with a coaches meeting to follow.
Matches will begin at 9:30 a.m.
Admission is $4 for adults and $3 for students.
Sports writer Greg Talkington can be reached at 626-1444 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.