Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wrestling Notebook

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Wrestling Notebook

Article excerpt

The best of the wrestling-rich Gateway Athletic Conference will square off this weekend in league tournament action at St. Charles West.

Wrestling begins Friday at 4:30 p.m. and resumes Saturday at 9:30 a.m.

"At this point, I'd say it's wide open," said Francis Howell coach Kevin Stroh, whose Vikings slipped past Francis Howell Central to take the title last season.

"I see it as a four-team race involving us, Howell Central, Holt and Zumwalt South. Holt has the three nationally ranked guys (seniors Sidney Oliver, Colby Smith and Gavin Londoff), but I think maybe the other three teams are a little more balanced, with guys in every weight class who can make runs at individual titles. There are top-level guys, returning state medalists, in just about every weight class. That's what makes this such a great event."

Holt's Smith, a three-time state medalist who won Class 4 titles in 2013 and 2015, will attempt to become the 12th four-time champion in GAC history this weekend. Oliver, his Indians teammate and fellow two-time state champ, is gunning for a third league crown.

Looking for back-to-back GAC titles are Timberland's Cameron Spires, Holt's Londoff, Holt's Connor Urevich and Warrenton's Dan Filipek. Fort Zumwalt North's Shaun Beeman won as a freshman in 2013.

Stroh, the first four-time GAC champion, said the conference tournament always is a highlight of the season.

"The coaches, we're all good friends, and so are a lot of the kids because they wrestle with and against each other year round," Stroh said. "We're friends, but we're all pretty competitive, too. Coming off the holiday break, you've settled into your lineup and this tournament, because of how deep and competitive it is, it gives you a great chance to see where you are and also where you'll need to be by the end of the month, when it's time to start getting ready for districts. …

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