COLUMBUS – Brute strength carried Lexington into the semifinals of Saturday’s dual team state wrestling tournament, but there’s power and then there’s … Graham.
The preeminent St. Paris program, two-time defending Division II duals champ, ranked No. 2 in the country, eliminated Lex 58-15, but it’s what the Minutemen did to reach that point that should resonate.
Fifth-seeded Lex prevailed over No. 4 Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary in the quarterfinals, 36-29, despite having several opportunities to fold.
The Minutemen trailed 13-6 after four weight classes and easily could have trailed 18-0 at that point. With four matches to go, the Irish had extended their lead to 29-18, with their 220-pounder, two-time state medalist Dre’k Brumley, waiting in the wings.
And when Brumley had Bailey Faust on his back, staring at the ceiling of St. John Arena, Faust and Lex looked like goners. Again.
Faust had other ideas, mainly: Don’t get pinned.
After what seemed like an eternity on his back, Faust muscled his way out of trouble when all hope seemed lost.
“My heart was racing; I could feel it pounding everywhere on my body,” teammate Drew Kasper said. “I knew that match was going to decide it.”
A pin by Brumley, ranked No. 2 in the state at 220 pounds, would have given St. V-St. M an insurmountable 35-24 lead, rendering Nate Temple’s match at heavyweight meaningless.
But Faust called on his years of mat experience — and sheer strength — to extricate himself from harm.
“It was an old biddy (wrestling) move,” he said. “I trapped an arm, hooked a leg and powered through it. Man, that was only the second or third time in my career I’ve given up back points and it was kind of scary.”
Actually, the same thing happened to Faust at last year’s state duals against Toledo Central Catholic. In that one, he came back to win by pin. This time, he scored a reverse and two back points of his own to carry a 4-3 lead into the third period. An obviously deflated Brumley went quietly after that, falling 5-3.
“It would have been nice to pin him right there,” said Faust, who bumped up to face Brumley instead of competing at 195, where he is ranked No. 1 in the state. “I knew if I got pinned, we were done, and I didn’t want to lose for this team or the seniors.”
In between rounds, Faust spent a lot of time in the stands watching video of his match.
“For three years I’ve come down to Columbus (for the team and individual state tournaments) and haven’t wrestled my best,” he said. “I get down here and freeze up. I’ve got to get past that because I’ve only got one shot left.”
Faust’s win over Brumley gave Lex its first lead, 30-29, and then Temple — a 2014 state medalist like Faust — finished off the Irish with a 1:31 pin of overmatched Dom Sciaretti.
The outcome doesn’t come down to Faust or Temple if not for an improbable pin by Lex freshman Mason Hoskins at 113. He fell behind 12-0 and was down 12-3 when he caught fellow ninth-grader James Sloan at 5:04.
It was Lex’s only victory in the first four matches. It followed a technical fall at 106 and preceded major decisions at 120 and 126. A 13-6 hole didn’t look so bad when it easily could have been 18-0.
Asked what he was thinking, down 12-0, Hoskins said, “Nothing was going through my head. I usually can hit a cradle from anywhere. I tried it again and it worked for me.”
Coach Brent Rastetter said Hoskins executed an unorthodox, risky cradle that Nick Hile used to win his unprecedented fourth J.C. Gorman Invitational title a few years ago and that 132-pounder Brandon Leynaud pulled off to pin two-time state placer Garret Carter at 3:44 on Saturday.
“I wrestled (Carter) a few times in summer (workouts),” Leynaud said. “Beating him boosts my confidence a lot. It reassures me that I’m with the top guys and can win a state title.”
The Minutemen also got wins from seniors Jon Watkins (145), Drew Kasper (182) and Mike Kahoun (195) and unheralded sophomore Aidan Ammons, by 4-3 decision over David Heath.
Kahoun, a 7-1 winner in his swing match with Matt Chu, helped Lex close out the match with four straight wins.
“There’s certain people we’ve counted on all year, but today we had some young guys (in terms of class rank, like Hoskins and Ammons, and experience, like Kahoun) come through for us.
“If you look at the final outcome, a loss by Hoskins would have definitely put us in a different situation.”
The biggest positive to come out of the match with Graham was winning three of the last four weight classes. Kasper scored a 9-4 decision, while Faust and Temple both won by pin. And the experience of stepping on the mat with the New York Yankees of Ohio high school wrestling could prove invaluable over the next few weeks.
“We’re not a bad team,” Rastetter said. “They just motored through us.”
Finishing in the top four Saturday doesn’t mean Rastetter will be satisfied with that spot on the big board at the individual state meet in four weeks.
“No, I want the runner-up trophy (behind Graham),” he said. “I still think we have six kids who should be at state and two or three who are on the brink if they can pull some upsets.”
DUAL TEAM STATE TOURNAMENT
• Site: St. John Arena, Columbus
DIVISION II QUARTERFINALS
• Team Score: Lexington 36, Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary 29
• 106: Joe Wright (A) tech fall Spencer Drake 16-1
• 113: Mason Hoskins (L) pin James Sloan (A) 5:04
• 120: Luke Wymer (A) dec. Max Baker 9-0
• 126: John Chell (A) dec Jacob Dalton 9-0
• 132: Brandon Leynaud (L) pin Garret Carter 3:44
• 138: Joe Koontz (A) pin Chuck Mikelait 4:51
• 145: Jon Watkins (L) dec. Michael McIntire 5-3
• 152: Ben Knauss (A) pin Xavier White 1:59
• 160: Aidan Ammons (L) dec. David Heath 4-3
• 170: Jared Lester (A) dec. T.J. Gerhardt 9-1
• 182: Drew Kasper (L) pin Chris Consillio 2:45
• 195: Mike Kahoun (L) dec. Matt Chu 7-1
• 220: Bailey Faust (L) dec. Dre’k Brumley 5-3
• 285: Nate Temple (L) pin Dom Sciaretti 1:31
DIVISION II SEMIFINALS
• Team Score: St. Paris Graham 58 , Lexington 15
• 106: Justin Stickley (G) pin Spencer Drake 2:16.
• 113: Mitch Moore () pin Mason Hoskins 0:42
• 120: Eli Stickley (G) pin Max Baker 3:35
• 126: Eli Seipel (G) tech fall Jacob Dalton16-1
• 132: Rocky Jordan (G) tech fall Brandon Leynaud 16-0
• 138: Ryan Thomas (G) dec. Chuck Mikelait 6-2
• 145: Brent Moore (G) dec. Jon Watkins 9-1
• 152: Kyle Lawson (G) pin Xavier White 2:37
• 160: Alex Marinelli (G) pin Aidan Ammons 1:12
• 170: Garrett Jordan (G) pin T.J. Gerhardt 2:27
• 182: Drew Kasper (L) dec. Hayden Bronne 9-4
• 195:Kavan Sarver (G) tech fall Ronald Kahoun 15-0
• 220: Bailey Faust (L) pin Josh Couchman 2:58
• 285: Nate Temple (L) pin Brandon Hays 3:34