Mike Day made himself comfortable; he was in the same seat for a while.
Centerville was represented in a string of five straight weight-class championship matches during Wednesday’s Tri-Eastern Conference wrestling tournament at Union County High School.
The Bulldogs built themselves an early lead, scoring more points through the first two rounds than six of the seven other teams did all night.
And with representatives in eight weight-class championship matches, it was no surprise when Centerville was announced as the 2014 TEC tournament champion.
Six weight-class champions and two second-place finishes highlighted Centerville’s night, as the Bulldogs earned 223 points to win their first TEC championship since 2007.
“I don’t mean to speak in clichés, but they did a great job,” Day said. “I’m super excited for those kids and what they’ve done is lay the foundation for the next years. … This was won not during the season, this was won in the offseason. A lot of these guys, they spend a lot of time lifting weights, running in the offseason and wrestling in the offseason, I mean Javon Phillips, he was JV last year, TEC champion this year, because he did what he had to do in the offseason to get better and that’s a testament to those kids and their hard work. I’m super proud of being their coach.”
It is the Bulldogs’ 13th TEC title, the first since they won back-to-back championships in 2006 and 2007 and the first for a Wayne County team since those years. Winchester of Randolph County won the title in 2008, 2009, 2011 and 2013, while Union County earned the championship in 2010 and 2012.
Union County finished second with 164 points Wednesday, while 2013 champion Winchester was third with 145. Rounding out the final team standings, Union City (122.5) was fourth, Hagerstown (100) fifth, Tri (92) sixth, Lincoln (72) seventh, and Northeastern (68.5) eighth.
“They came ready to wrestle today, no doubt,” Winchester coach Brian Feltis said of Centerville. “They got some good seeds from the seeding meeting, they used it to their advantage and they wrestled really well. Hats off to them, they deserve the championship, I think they had eight in the finals, that’s really good.”
Luke Markley (106 pounds), Alston Jenkinson (120), Phillips (126), Isaiah Michaels (132), Austin Killion (145) and Bryce Robinson (182) all won weight-class titles for Centerville, while Dakota Tipton (138) and Isaac Creigmile (285) finished second.
Joey Hale (170) and Cameron Deloney each finished third for Centerville while Randy Jordan (160) and Enrique Calderon (195) finished fourth.
Killion, Tipton, Robinson and Calderon are all seniors.
“It feels great, we’ve worked really hard,” Killion said. “… All the matches were pretty tough matches, the kids are pretty good, I was a little exhausted coming in, because I haven’t been able to practice in a while and I’ve been sick, but it really paid off.”
Markley and Robinson each had thrilling finishes to their matches, with Markley earning a 10-8 decision in overtime over Northeastern’s Colton Handley.
Markley was given a penalty point with about 13 seconds left in regulation, tying the match at 8, before the Centerville sophomore earned a takedown over Handley in overtime. Jenkinson defeated Union County’s Daniel McClurg 4-0 at the same time as Phillips earned a 3-2 decision over Patriot Cole Bowers, causing Day and Union County coach Dan Briggs to switch their attention back and forth between mats.
Day remained on the mat for three more championship matches in a row.
“Great matches, it’s hard to be in both matches, I’m just glad that didn’t keep happening all night, because I probably would have had a heart attack,” Day joked.
Union County had seven make the finals with Cam Coffman (113), Emilio Aquino-Morales (170) and Clark Minges (285) earning weight-class titles.
“It means a lot,” Aquino-Morales said. “Last year I placed fourth year, this year I won it, but our schedule’s really tough and it prepares us for these type of tournaments right here, that’s why you see a lot of our teammates succeeding in tournaments like these.”
McClurg (120), Bowers (126), Levi Oswald (145) and Elisha Parker (220) finishing second for the Patriots.
“I’m real pleased with the kids that won, we had two freshmen (Coffman and Minges) win, so that’s huge,” Briggs said. “It shows a really good future for us, and Emilio just wrestled solid today. He did what we needed him to do. I’m real pleased, for the most part I think we did all right, I mean, over half our team wrestled for the championship, so pretty good day.”
Other weight-class champions were Christian Cox (138) and Larry McDaniel (152) of Hagerstown, Dustyn Hangen (195) and Jacob Sofronko (220) of Winchester and Kyle Anguiano (160) of Union City.
It is the second straight TEC title for Jenkinson, Cox and Sofronko.
“As a senior, it’s probably any senior’s goal to come out as a champion and to go out with a bang,” Sofronko said after defeating Union County’s Elisha Parker by fall. “That was one of the five goals our coaches had us write down at the beginning of the year was to become conference champion, and on that list are some other goals that I didn’t get quite accomplished yet, but conference champion helps seal me in on hat a little bit.”
Cox came close to earning a tech fall over Tipton, but the Bulldog made him battle and settle for a 16-5 major decision.
“I’m just a defensive wrestler and I just wait for my opponent to do stuff usually, but I’ve got to change that if I want to get past semistate, I’ve got to work on that, be more aggressive,” Cox said. “… Larry, me and him practice a lot, he’s really strong, he’s young, he’s wrestled his whole life, but he hasn’t really started dedicating himself till this year and he’s getting really good.”
Other second-place finishes went to Handley (106), Braxton Brush (132) and Chace Mosley (170) of Northeastern, Brandon Miller (113) and Caleb Cook (195) of Tri High, Dalton Atkinson (152) and Gus Rihm (160) of Lincoln and Grant Gough of Winchester.
Gough, who won a TEC title in 2013, fell in a close 7-6 decision to Robinson.
“Grant’s a great wrestler, we battled a couple weeks ago, he came out with the victory,” Robinson said. “I knew he was going to come at me again today and I knew the past couple days I had to work harder and harder to come out here and get the TEC championship.
“… I’m really glad that Austin got his (weight-class title), finally; I’m glad the team won, finally — it’s been six or seven years since we won it, we’ve all worked really hard, so I’m glad we finally got it.”