Rebels join OVAC

WHEELING, W.Va. — The Ohio Valley Athletic Conference is growing once again.

During their mandatory meeting held inside WesBanco Arena Wednesday morning, the athletic directors of the conference formally approved  Crestview as the 53rd member of the OVAC.

Crestview, which began the process of joining nearly a year ago, becomes part of the conference immediately and is eligible, should it be able to meet the game requirements for conference titles and accolades starting this winter.

Columbiana was approved by a 50-1 vote. With its current enrollment of 320, the Rebels will slot into Class 3A. No further changes to the classes will be made until next fall after latest enrollment figures are compiled.

“Our biggest concern is trying to help schools in the northern and southern areas for scheduling, especially in the non-revenue sports, so they don’t have to do a lot of traveling,” OVAC Executive Secretary Tom Rataiczak said. “Crestview brings a solid program in. They have some beautiful facilities. People from Steubenville north are going to be able to utilize them with no problem.”

Prior to the vote coming to the schools, Crestview was approved by the OVAC’s Executive Board during its September meeting..

“They reached out to us after the league they were in was breaking up and they were left out of it,” Rataiczak said. “It’s only an hour-and-15-minutes to get up there from Wheeling.”

Crestview was represented at the meeting by its superintendent, Matthew Manley; principal Lynda Dickson and athletic director Paul Cusick.

“(The Inter-Tri County League) has kind of fallen apart now, so it’s nice to get some footing back and expose ourselves to some different schools,” Cusick said. “In talking with some of the athletic directors, they’ve been very helpful. We’ve been able to connect before today after we told them we had applied to join.”

Cusick expects his athletic program to be as active as possible in the OVAC. The school has the remainder of this school year, next year and the fall of 2018 to clean up all prior contracts.

“We’re going to be in an adjustment period for a year or two because we took some games as an independent,” Cusick said. “We’re going to try to craft a schedule around that and gear it toward, hopefully, an OVAC schedule.”

Though basketball schedules are completed for this winter, Cusick expects the Rebels to compete in the Ron Mauck OVAC Wrestling Tournament as well as the Bill Brubaker Swim Championships this winter.

“We’re going to do as much as we can,” Cusick said. “We have some schedules filled, but for the open dates we do have, we’d prefer to schedule OVAC schools.”

Crestview is the third Ohio school to join the conference since the last new West Virginia member was approved. Warren Local and Southern Local were approved last year.