There were several individual upsets Saturday during the Jefferson County Tournament of Championships, but it would have taken a memorable day to unseat St. Xavier High School’s wrestling team from the Jefferson County throne.
St. Xavier, the only squad in the 21-school, 181-wrestler event at at Fairdale High School’s Stan Hardin Gymnasium to compete in all 14 weight classes, used its depth to run away with the team title.
“I felt like we did like we were expected to do. But I felt like we needed to do better, I guess,” said third-ranked St. Xavier sophomore Jimmy Kraeszig, who stayed unbeaten (11-0) and kept the Tigers undefeated in the finals (5-0 at that point) with a 6-2 decision over eighth-ranked Moore sophomore Isaiah Newberry (25-10) in the 138-pound final. “We had to get it into our heads at practice that this was just like any other tournament.”
St. Xavier, ranked second in the state in the KentuckyWrestling.com rankings, couldn’t have done much better.
The Tigers had half their grapplers in the finals — winning their first six title matches before falling in the seventh — and had every entry but one advance to at least the semifinals. That was more than enough to secure the crown well before the wrestlebacks or consolation portion of the event began.
St. Xavier finished with 316 points, easily putting runner-up Male (163) and third-place Moore (131) out of the rear-view mirror. Male had six top-four finishes and two champions (eighth-grader Scotty Villums at 106 and sophomore Zane Brown at 152), while Moore had eight wrestlers earn top-six medals. Valley was fourth with 130 points and Central rounded out the top five with 126 points.
In spite of its impressive finish, the Tigers still left a little disappointed after falling a tad bid short of their team goal (320.5 points) and finalist goal (10).
“This has been a great preparation for us for regionals and the state tournament,” said St. Xavier coach Jim Kraeszig. “We found a lot of weaknesses in our game here and we’re going to fix those. That’s what we needed this for.”
Brown (33-1), the only Jefferson County wrestler to be ranked No. 1 in his weight class, broke up the Tigers’ title-round sweep with a 4-2 decision over sixth-ranked St. Xavier senior Dallas Miles (17-3) for the 152 crown. It was also a bit of revenge for the Bulldogs after fourth-ranked St. Xavier senior Clayton Hanson (8-0) earned an 11-4 decision against eighth-ranked Male junior Tristin Garcia (29-6) in the previous final at 145 to make the Tigers 6-for-6 in the finals at that point.
Before the younger Kraeszig’s title win, the Tigers won titles at 285 (junior Isaac Marret), 113 (senior Joshua Schmidt), 120 (sophomore Nate Wheeler) and 126 (senior Austin Cook). The only two unranked wrestlers among the 28 finalists faced off in the heavyweight class as Marret (13-2) earned a 4-2 decision against Fern Creek junior Zeph Ragsdale (36-4). The 15th-ranked Schmidt (15-5) earned an upset pin of 12th-ranked Doss senior Derek Ringlen (23-5) in 1:50. The second-ranked Wheeler (15-1) earned a 9-1 major decision against Manual senior Chance Caldwell (24-2), who was ranked 16th at 126 before dropping down. And in the shortest final, fourth-ranked Cook (16-3) needed just 31 seconds to pin 19th-ranked Central junior Da’Rius Calloway (16-9).
The finals opened with back-to-back upsets. At 182 pounds, 18th-ranked Atherton sophomore Andrew Marchal remained unbeaten (7-0) with his 6-2 upset of eighth-ranked Valley junior Caleb Lane. Then fifth-ranked Trinity sophomore Kadim Kulmer (24-4) pinned second-ranked Jeffersontown junior Damoreon Travis (8-2) in 1:55.
At 220, second-ranked Jeffersontown senior Lawrence Malala (10-1) earned a 10-6 decision over 10th-ranked Trinity senior Darian Story (17-7).
The youngest finalist earned a title as ninth-ranked Villums (18-7) earned a 4-2 decision over 13th-ranked Doss freshman Simmon Powell (26-3). Villums was also voted Most Outstanding Wrestler for the seven weight classes from 106-145.
Desmond Lewis (32-4), a 17th-ranked Valley 132-pound senior, recorded the fourth upset of the final with a late pin of seventh-ranked PRP junior Blake Evans (21-2) in 4:45.
The 160 final pitted two grapplers who were ranked, but not in that class as fourth-ranked Jared Branch of Fern Creek bumped up from 152 and 11th-ranked Valley junior Tyjeric Williams, who was coming down from 170. Branch (37-2) came away with an 11-0 major decision over Williams (34-5).
In the last match of the night — which was purposely scheduled that way since the wrestlers were the only finalists to both be ranked in the top five — third-ranked Manual junior Jacob Bratcher (30-0) decisioned fourth-ranked Male sophomore Jack Lucas (23-7), 9-7.
Bratcher, who was facing Lucas for the first time since last year’s regionals, was immediately Most Outstanding Wrestler for the seven heavier weights (152-185).
“It feels pretty good for two weeks in a row to be the MOW,” said Bratcher, referring to his previous tournament award at Valley. “I thought I did pretty good and I loved the last match with Jack since we used to be practice partners (on Fern Creek’s club team).”
1. St. Xavier, 316 points; 2. Male, 163; 3. Moore, 131; 4. Valley, 130; 5. Central, 126; 6. Trinity, 121; 7. Fern Creek, 115; 8. Doss, 105.5; 9. Pleasure Ridge Park, 101; 10. DeSales, 96; 11. Manual, 74; 12. Jeffersontown, 50; 13. Fairdale, 37; 14. Atherton, 36; 15. Seneca, 33.5; 16. Iroquois, 27; 17. Waggener, 11; 18. Holy Cross, 6; 19. Shawnee, 4; 19. Southern, 4; 21. Western, 0.
1st: Scotty Villums (Male) def. Simmon Powell (Doss), 4-2.
3rd: Marquelle McDaniel (Central) def. Chris Dues (Moore), 14-12.
5th: Nathan Ohlmann (St. Xavier) def. Jake Moseley (Fairdale), 9-1.
1st: Joshua Schmidt (St. Xavier) def. Derek Ringlen (Doss), 1:50.
3rd: Landon Lenhart (Trinity def. Donovan Evans (Pleasure Ridge Park), 3:35.
5th: Nicholas Rudolph (DeSales) def. Montrail Porter, 1:39.
1st: Nate Wheeler (St. Xavier) def. Chance Caldwell (Manual), 9-1.
3rd: Virgil Garcia (Male) def. Agali Radjapov (Moore), 1:28.
5th: Dylan Harkins (DeSales) def. Charles Sanders (Central), 2:31.
1st: Austin Cook (St. Xavier) def. Darius Calloway (Central), 0:31.
3rd: Lukas Brown (Trinity) def. Leondre Duncan (Fern Creek), 13-7.
5th: Noah Greenwell (Fairdale) def. Francisco Estrada (Moore), 3:09.
1st: Desmond Lewis (Valley) def. Blake Evans (Pleasure Ridge Park), 4:45.
3rd: Alex Rivera (Moore) def. Kaden Darbro (St. Xavier), 3-1.
5th: Luke Polin (DeSales) def. Kaden Shook (Central), 2:41.
1st: Jimmy Kraeszig (St. Xavier) def. Isaiah Newberry (Moore), 6-2.
3rd: Gavin Foushee (Seneca) def. Nikeem Avent (Fern Creek), 15-0.
5th: Isander Santiago Reyes (Valley) def. Quentin Neal (Doss), forfeit.
1st: Clayton Hanson (St. Xavier) def. Tristin Garcia (Male), 11-4.
3rd: Jalen Huff (Pleasure Ridge Park) def. Quentin Roland (Central), 1:44.
5th: Keith Malone (Doss) def. Christian Solorzano (Valley), 4:00.
1st: Zane Brown (Male) def. Dallas Miles (St. Xavier), 4-2.
3rd: Keaon Taylor (Doss) def. Donald Evans (Pleasure Ridge Park), 9-6.
5th: Jon Gaudin (Trinity) def. Noah Jones (Moore), 4:31.
1st: Jared Branch (Fern Creek) def. Tyjeric Williams (Valley), 11-0.
3rd: Cameron Ward (St. Xavier) def. Noah Kulmer (Trinity), 10-5.
5th: Graham Davis (Pleasure Ridge Park) def. Connor Ridenour (Manual), 0:41.
1st: Jacob Bratcher (Manual) def. Jack Lucas (Male), 9-7.
3rd: Austin Towles (St. Xavier) def. Matthew Quiggins (Fern Creek), 4:22.
5th: Larry Urbina (Iroquois) def. Luis Ceron (Moore), 1:41.
1st: Andrew Marchal (Atherton) def. Caleb Lane (Valley), 6-2.
3rd: Zach Cumella (St. Xavier) def. Zach Chandler (Male), 14-4.
5th: Adam Nauert (DeSales) def. William Elliott (Pleasure Ridge Park), forfeit.
1st: Kadin Kulmer (Trinity) def. Damoreon Travis (Jeffersontown), 1:55.
3rd: Grover Russell (Central) def. Justin Voelker (St. Xavier), 10-9.
5th: Steven Brown (Doss) def. Peyton Martin (Male), 10-6.
1st: Lawrence Malala (Jeffersontown) def. Darian Story (Trinity), 10-6.
3rd: Benjamin Deprest (St. Xavier) def. Patrick Dumire (Valley), 3:21.
5th: Gage Gray (Fern Creek) def. Meki Lewis (DeSales), 1:25.
1st: Isaac Marret (St. Xavier) def. Zeph Ragsdale (Fern Creek), 4-2.
3rd: Brandyn Robertson (Central) def. Cody Melton (Moore), 3:55.
5th: Dejaun Watkins (DeSales) def. Ja`Quaye Effinger (Valley), forfeit.