The nature of Saturday’s season-opening Granville Invitational left everyone reaching for scratch paper and doing math.
No matter what way the host Blue Aces figured it, they could not quite find enough points to overcome Centerburg for the team title. It was far from a lost day, however, for up-and-coming Granville.
“The first part of the tournament is more individual, and it helps build confidence,” Granville senior heavyweight Caleb Sims said. “Once you get into the team duals, you are kind of on a high. You want to roll with that high. We got second, but we are still going to move on.”
Granville fell 35-30 to Centerburg in the championship dual. The Blue Aces were missing three starters, including senior Alex Marcum, who will miss the season because of an elbow injury. Each team had three forfeits in the final.
Christian Price (126), Dain Steffeny (152), Will Navin (160) and Sims were Pool A champions in the preliminary rounds. Price, 9-5; Steffeny, 10-3; Navin, 13-9; and Caleb Browne (195), 7-6, beat Centerburg opponents by decision.
“I didn’t feel as strong, but I am ready to go,” said Steffeny, a returning state qualifier. “I have been practicing the whole offseason. You know you have to work so hard, and it all pays off at the very end.”
Granville led 21-17 after Steffeny and Navin won their matches back to back. Freshman Dayton Steffeny then battled Matt Strawser into the third period. Dayton Steffeny had a near fall to take a lead just for a moment, but Strawser got a reversal before pinning Dayton Steffeny. Strawser had a first-period pin in the pair’s preliminary match, so the final result was a marked improvement.
As Granville continues to add to its lineup, the Blue Aces could get over the hump in future tournaments. A full roster will be a welcome change from 2011-12 when the Blue Aces were a mash unit.
“I am proud of everyone today, even the freshmen, because we all did really well today for the size of team that we have,” Dain Steffeny said. “We have our confidence up this year, so hopefully we can continue accelerating. We were losing people one by one (last year). It was kind of like Survivor.”
Utica, also missing several starters, finished sixth. The Redskins typically compete for the title at Granville. Instead, they had to settle for an unbeaten performance from Nick Carpenter at 182.
Carpenter, a two-time district qualifier, had five victories, including three pins. His Pool A championship was his first.
“I felt kind of cursed last year because I always got second,” Carpenter said. “I feel like I broke the curse already. It was almost every meet I got second. I would tense up a little bit, and I’d lose. It was that simple.”
Jayson Faller (145) had five victories out of Pool C, and Logan Stillions and Will Sturm added three wins apiece for Utica. John Gershom (145) was Lakewood’s top performer.