By AARON PETCHAL
WHEELING, W.Va. - Another chapter was added to the storied history of the Beaver Local wrestling program.
The Beavers' Daniel Lattanzio entered the 170-pound weight class at the 60th annual Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Tournament as the sixth seed Thursday night. He left WesBanco Arena Saturday night as the top dog in his class.
Lattanzio, who is a senior, defeated top-seeded Kale Rayner of Caldwell in the finals 10-6 to become the latest in a long line of Beaver Local wrestlers to bring home an OVAC championship.
"It feels great," Lattanzio said. "This is the best feeling of my life to be honest with you."
Lattanzio also defeated the No. 2 and No. 3 seed en route to claiming the conference championship.
"Daniel is my first OVAC champion as a coach," Beaver Local head coach Jordan Williams said. "It feels good. I'm really happy for Daniel."
Both wrestlers had the advantage at times during the match. In the end, Lattanzio scored a couple of late points to seal the deal.
"I think I wrestled solid," Lattanzio said. "I was a little sloppy in the second period. He was able to get the lead. I knew I had to come out in the third and wrestle tough."
Lattanzio opened the tournament by pinning Weir's Christian Wiley in 2:56 in the first round.
"I turned it on at the beginning," Lattanzio said. "As one of the leaders, I needed to start the tournament off strong."
In the second round, Lattanzio defeated Buckeye Local's Tristan Jones by decision by a score of 9-4.
Wiley and Jones were both unseeded.
"The sky is the limit for Daniel," Williams said. "When he comes to wrestle, he can beat anybody in the valley, in the sectional and in the state. He is an incredible athlete. When he works hard, good things happen."
Lattanzio wrestled his first of three-straight seeded wrestlers in the quarterfinals.
"He beat the third seed, the second seed and the first seed," Williams said. "He has the potential to get better. He wrestled great today. We have high expectations for the rest of the season."
In the quarterfinals, Lattanzio defeated No. 3 seed Seth Benge of St. Clairsville by decision by a score of 8-2. In the semifinals, Lattanzio dispatched No. 2 seed Drake Mills of Parkersburg South. The Beaver defeated the Patriot by decision by a score of 3-1 to set up his finals match against Rayner.
"As the sixth seed, there were kids seeded above me that I didn't think were better than me," Lattanzio said. "I came down here and showed iseedst."
Williams said he expected Lattanzio to do very well at the tournament.
"Daniel always outdoes expectations," he said. "I think he can always go higher. I think he is on his way to getting there. He has the potential to do some big things."
Beaver Local has wrestled stiff competition all year. The Beavers have competed in duals against some top-notch competition, and Beaver Local has wrestled strong competition in various tournaments throughout the season. For the most part, Beaver Local has been success on the mat this season against all of the competition it has faced this season.
Lattanzio's performance this season is a big reason why.
"I've had a pretty good season, but this is the best I have wrestled in my whole life," he said.
Lattanzio has come a long way on and off of the mat during his four years at Beaver Local. While he hasn't gotten undefeated on the mat, Lattanzio's biggest loss came off of the mat.
"This tournament means a lot to him," Williams said. "He wrestles every day in honor of his deceased father. He wanted to win this tournament for his father. He wrestled with a lot of heart and determination. I know he is excited."
Lattanzio said winning the tournament was important for him.
"I lost my dad at this tournament my freshman year," he said. "This time of the year is tough. Winning this makes it a little easier."
Lattanzio has come out on top before, but none of those tournaments were as big as this one.
"Winning this is the best accomplishment I've had," he said.
Lattanzio also excelled on the football field for the Beavers.
"Our football team wasn't the best," he said. "I knew this was my last sport in high school, and I really wanted to make something out of it."
Lattanzio plans to continue his academic and athletic careers in college.
"I plan on it," he said. "I am planning on playing football. If not, I will wrestle for sure."