The Delaware Hayes High School wrestling team has been looking forward to the OCC-Capital Division tournament all season.

The Delaware Hayes High School wrestling team has been looking forward to the OCC-Capital Division tournament all season .
Finally, it's here. Featuring a dual format, it will be held Saturday at Big Walnut.

"I think it's a great format and it will be good preparation for the postseason," coach Josh Heffernan said. "Our kids are excited to go after it. They know they have to upset some guys to win it, but it should be a great test. We'll see many of the same guys in the sectional and district tournaments, so this is a chance to improve their postseason seedings and gain confidence against possible future opponents."

The Pacers finished an 11-day layoff last Thursday, beating Upper Arlington 41-36 and losing to Worthington Kilbourne 38-32. Beginning today in the Bobcat Duals at Ohio University, every competition on the Pacers' schedule will be a learning tool for the postseason.

"The Bobcat Duals will give us the chance to wrestle in a big venue," Heffernan said. "That's always a positive thing. There will be two duals, with Circleville, Westerville North and Nelsonville-York joining us there. After the first dual, all the teams will watch Ohio University in a collegiate match. It should be fun and we can also learn from watching. Then the other (high school) dual will be competed."

Heffernan likes the dual format in the OCC.

"It's a cool thing because kids can feed off the momentum of their teammates," he said. "If you get an unexpected win or an unexpected pin, it can cause a snowball effect. We'll have two different agendas there, doing our best to win the OCC title and doing our best in matchups that could be potential sectional and district pairings. It is important where you're seeded in the postseason."

Big Walnut and Mount Vernon are expected to be the teams to beat, but Heffernan said the format gives his team hope.

"Big Walnut and Mount Vernon will have full lineups and will be competitive in every weight class," he said. "Big Walnut has a couple of studs and Mount Vernon has six district qualifiers in their lineup. New Albany has a nice squad and Watkins Memorial has three really good kids.

"But we have seven seniors in our lineup who have stuck together and worked hard. They're eager to show what they can do. We have to stay off our backs and steal some points and get bonus points to make up for some of our forfeits."

Delaware has had its most success between 119 and 140 pounds with Greg Flaglor (119), Michael Austin (125), Brent Spivey (135) and Mark Rieman (140). It also is strong at 160 with Joe Sumner, at 189 with Christion Brooks and at 215 with Evan Welsh.

Flaglor, who is 21-4, was second at 119 in the Division I area coaches poll last week. But he was the only Pacer to make the rankings, although Brooks was included earlier this season.

Rieman is 27-3, followed by Spivey (21-9), Sumner (20-10), Brooks (20-12), Austin (17-9), Welsh (7-3) and Seth McCurdy (16-14 at 103).

"We're all looking forward to the OCC tournament," Heffernan said. "It's that time of the year where they begin to complete all the moves we've been working on and to wrestle smart and wrestle well."

The Pacers will play host to the Delaware Invitational on Feb. 7. The final event of the regular season is Feb. 13 at Mount Vernon.