— Thanks to their recent dominance in the fabled “Trojan Dome”, the Glen Este High School wrestling team has won two of the first three Eastern Cincinnati Conference championships, including last season.
It was the first title as head coach for Chris Redmond, who was honored as the ECC coach of the year. The Trojans lost wrestler of the year Gage Branson, plus first teamers Evan Gottis, Jason Belcher and Matt Kennedy to graduation. However, Oscar and Angel Santana, Brandon Hertel, Brandon Smith, Avery Jones and Nate Stone return as ECC first team selections for the powers in purple.
Stone was a state qualifier last season. Heavyweight Seth Crissman was also a first team pick but is not wrestling this season as he prepares to play college football. In his place, Redmond has added Austin Phillips who missed last season due to injury and is now checking in at 270 pounds.
“He’s wrestled since middle school,” Redmond said. “He was coming to camps and was excited about wrestling last season, then blew his knee out. He’s back and all fired up. We lost a heavyweight and gained one.”
More added depth will come from Western Brown transfer Tristan McGraff.
“He’s really tough and could’ve been a district qualifier his freshman year,” Redmond said.
In addition to his veteran seniors and experienced wrestlers from last year’s ECC champs, Redmond is encouraged by a dozen newcomers who could impact the future at the new West Clermont High School eventually.
“We have 12 from our freshman class and every one but two are football players,” Redmond said. “I’ve always coached football and wrestling and I’ve always tried to get those football players to come wrestle for me.”
After early duals with Harrison and Springboro, the Trojans tangle at Ryle Dec. 16 before heading to the Coaches Classic meet at Harrison Dec. 19-20.
Amelia seeks to improve last year’s finish in the Southern Buckeye Conference-American Division which was dominated by league champion Western Brown, Norwood and New Richmond.
Coach Chance Baysinger returns just two starters and will be led by senior Jared Wiederhold at 146 pounds and sophomores Vinny Gabriele (120), Elijah Murdock (138) and Eric Kennedy (152).
“We’re a young team without much experience, but we have a bunch of hard workers in the room and want to get better and are willing to put in the time.”
The Barons are in the Edgewood Invitational Dec. 11 and will be at the Blanchester Holiday Duals Dec. 18-19.
Coach Deron Shinkle’s New Richmond Lions finished third in the SBAAC-American behind Western Brown and Norwood last season.
In search of their first league title since 2011, the Lions feature senior Mike Jones at 152 pounds who was SBAAC-first team as a junior. Junior Brandon Planck returns as the Division II sectional champion at 126 pounds and was SBAAC-second team.
Other point scorers to look for include senior Shawn Elam at 285 and sophomores Ryan Wolf (138) and Ryan Buckley (170).
“This year’s team is young with a lot of raw talent,” Shinkle said.
Upcoming matches for New Richmond are against Western Brown and Wilmington Dec. 9 and Ross and Blanchester Dec. 10. They’ll also participate in the Roger Bacon Invitational Dec. 12 and Blanchester Invitational Dec. 18-19.
The Bulldogs will lose their top wrestler from last season in Darnay Foley.
Last season, he was the Southern Buckeye Athletic and Academic Conference champion, Batavia sectional champion, Southeastern district runner-up and was a state qualifier at 220.
However, Batavia would have a couple solid wrestlers should Andrew Truske and Jordan Cahall return this season. Both finished with winning records last season.
Tanner and Brennen Smith could also return this year.
After 30 years, Williamsburg wrestling will be under new management. Longtime coach Mark Isaac stepped away from the lead role.
However, the Wildcats should have more than a few faces their followers know.
Kendal Johnson, Wyatt Lefker, Nate Golden, Randy Thornberry, Dawson Davis, Dylan Bailey, Bryson Vize, Spencer Clark, Christen Abrams, Shawn Tarvin and Trent Brewer can all return this season.
Johnson, Lefker, Brewer, Tarvin, Davis, Bailey and Vize all qualified for districts last year.
The McNicholas Rockets shouldn’t be counted out of the annual “King of the Hill” rivalry.
Jackson Gear and Thomas Moore, son of coach Craig Moore, wrestled for select teams in middle school which helped them make the jump to the high school ranks.
Prior to the postseason, Gear had one of the better records on the team at 25-8 with 12 pins through Feb. 18 of last year. He was top-10 in the city in wins at 145 pounds.
Moore, through Feb. 18, was 21-12.
Rielly Dowell-Howko, the team’s only returning King of the Hill winner from last year, is back for his junior season.
“Anderson has dominated this event for a number of years, but coach Moore has started to develop a program over there at McNick,” Georg said after last year’s King of the Hill. “It’s becoming more competitive.”
Wrestlers to watch
Oscar Santana, Brandon Hertel, Angel Santana, Brandon Smith, Avery Jones, Nate Stone, Glen Este – All were first team Eastern Cincinnati Conference picks for ECC Coach of the Year Chris Redmond.
Mike Jones, New Richmond – First team SBAAC for coach Deron Shinkle.
Brandon Planck, New Richmond – Division II sectional champion at 126 as a sophomore and second team SBAAC.