It is hard to break a bond.
Licking Valley’s opponents in the Division II sectional tournament Saturday discovered that the hard way. The Panthers qualified all 10 of their entries to next weekend’s district tournament and won the team title.
“We are really close-knit,” junior Bo Redman said. “If one person is lacking, we will badger him until he improves. That is how we help each other. Everyone on our team is like family.”
Redman (220) was one of three champions for Valley. Jake Martinez (106) and Blake Owens (195) also cruised to titles as Valley totaled 193½ points for its fourth sectional title in five years. Runner-up Granville had 177 and third-place Big Walnut finished with 164.
It was a measure of revenge for the Panthers after they were eliminated from the team tournament by the Blue Aces in late January. Granville also won the Licking County League title.
Redman had a pair of first-minute of pins before pinning Bloom-Carroll’s T.J. Howard late in the second period. Redman had the unknown of wrestling new opponents, and that experience should come in handy at Claymont.
“It’s good because I don’t have to do the same thing,” Redman said. “I can work on my moves, and I can train myself to adapt quicker.”
Owens, a returning state qualifier, bullied his way to a championship. He had three first-period pins, beating Eastmoor Academy’s Gavin Grace-Giles in the final.
“It is a better seed for districts,” Owens said. “They were kind of easy matches, but they give me better confidence for next week, for sure.
“You have to wrestle your best and not worry too much about the outcome.”
All four wrestlers advanced at 106. Martinez pinned DeSales’ Domenic Carfagna in the first.
Other district qualifiers for Valley were Colton Chesser (2nd, 113); Malique Elliot (4th, 120); Anthony Moran (3rd, 145); Ethan Fout (3rd, 152); Garrett Robinson (4th, 160); Drew Carson (2nd, 182) and Jaqui Vanmeter (2nd, Hwt.).
Granville’s Christian Price (138) faced a familiar opponent in the final, and he earned the result he wanted. Price beat Big Walnut’s R.J. Martin 7-1. He also had three pins.
“I felt like I wrestled very well,” said Price, who was 2-2 at the district in 2013. “I felt like I was always being very aggressive and pushing the action in all of my matches. I just felt like I was wrestling more calmly.”
Zach Purdy (145) was a perfect 4-for-4 in earning pins for the Blue Aces, and he will not soon forget his final. He pinned DeSales’ Nick Myers late in the second to earn his first tournament title and his 100th career win.
Will Navin (160) beat Big Walnut’s Austin Carr 9-2 to give Granville three champions. Other qualifiers were Luciano Mendicino (2nd, 126); Dain Steffeny (2nd, 152); Mathieu Holt (4th, 170); Dane Heughebart (3rd, 182) and Alex Eckels (4th, 195).
Heath’s Isaiah Young (120) was 4-0 with three pins to win the area’s other title. He beat the Golden Eagles’ Wes Landrum 11-2 in the final.