Joseph Hensley of Moeller locks up Jonathan Floyd of Springboro in an attempt at a pin. Wrestling Division 1 Distrcit Finals were held over a two-day period March 6 and 7 at Kettering Fairmont High School.
KETTERING – Wrestlers are their own breed. They need no help being unique. Throw a shot at state into the middle of a mat, then sit back and watch how important a trip to Columbus is.
Next weekend at the state tournament, Cincinnati will be well-represented; it usually is. The top four wrestlers from each weight class earn a spot at state.
Saturday’s Division I district tournament at Kettering Fairmont saw a slew of locals win district titles and earn the right to wrestle on the grand stage. Mason came away with its first-ever district team title. The Comets racked up 177.5 points, besting second-place Moeller’s 145, and Elder in third with 134.5.
Mason will send seven wrestlers to state, the most of any local Division I school. Elder and Moeller both advanced six grapplers.
Traveling to state for the Comets are: Zack Donathan (106), Patrick Kearney (113), Colin Schuster (120), Nick D’Agostino (152), Cameron Pitts (170), Jordan Collins (182) and Sheldon Sims (220).
Donathan won the district title at 106 with a decision over Fairfield freshman Zach Shupp. D’Agostino won 8-4 in the finals. Collins won a district title as well – he’s now 44-3 this season – giving the Comets three district champions.
“It’s been a long time coming,” Mason coach Craig Murnan said. “We set out March last year after our banquet and our kids committed to what we needed to do and we had this on our radar since the end of the last state tournament. It’s a great group of kids, they’re all a product of our junior high program.”
Kearney and Donathan are returning state qualifiers, Murnan added.
“We have high expectations, we want to be on the board and we think we can be high on the board,” Murnan said referring to the scoreboard at state. “But up there (at state) crazy things can happen. I do know our kids will come to wrestle.”
Moeller’s sending Conner Ziegler (120), Jake Thompson (132), Jacoby Ward (138), Brett Bryant (160), Jack Meyer (220) and Joseph Hensley (285). Ziegler and Ward both won district titles in their respective weight divisions; Hensley got caught in the final and was pinned. Unfortunately, an injury sidelined Sam Wyche, who had a good shot at making it to state, Moeller coach James Yonushonis said.
“We had some disappointments and we had some real upside too, not surprises but guys believing that they’re going to win,” Yonushonis said. “Jake Thompson, just every match of the tournament wasn’t expected to do what he did; he found a way and fought every single match. Even in his final match against (Corey) Shie – that guy majored him over Christmas and he cut that down to a one-point loss.
“Talk about disappointment, I immediately think of Sam Wyche, he ended up getting injured and not being able to finish the tournament.”
Moeller will be plenty comfortable at state.
“We’re taking six guys and expectations are for all of them to be placing. I think every one of them is capable of doing it,” Yonushonis said.
Elder’s six set for state are Austin Murphy (113), Jake Meridieth (126), Connor Craig (145), Ti’Ric Evans (152), Andrew Taylor (160) and Gage Brock (195). Murphy, who’s 34-7 this season, was Elder’s lone district champion with a 4-2 decision over Mason’s Kearney.
“They wrestled with a lot of heart,” Elder coach Jason Roush said. “It’s an exciting tournament. We had two freshman that defeated the returning (senior) district champs.”
Next week, Roush, and his guys, are hoping they can add to Elder’s “Wall of Champions” in their gym.
“Our hopes are to hit the podium. We have a wall of champions with all of our state placers that they get to look at everyday – that’s where they want to be,” Roush said. “Anything can happen, we won some matches that we lost last week and lost some matches that we won last week. That’s how this sport is, every match is different.”
La Salle advanced three through to state in sophomores Corey Shie (132), Eric Beck (138) and Andrew Sams (145). Shie and Sams, both returning state qualifiers, were both district champions. Sams, now 45-4 this season, won a 3-0 decision over Piqua’s Hunter Bryant; Shie, who’s 43-2 this year, beat Moeller’s Thompson 1-0 in the final.
Glen Este’s state qualifiers are Gage Branson (120) and Nate Stone (195). Fairfield will have Zach Shupp (106) and Austin Sper (126) at state.
Northwest has Keyon Huntley (126) and Julian Daniels (182) through to state. Huntley is now 41-5 this season and Daniels is now 34-1.
Springboro has a nice group going to state in Jakob Ottaway (152), Andrew Honious (160), Chad Salzer (170) and Jonathon Floyd (285). Honious defeated Moeller’s Bryant by decision in the 160 final.
Other area qualifiers: Harrison’s Cory Baird (106), Edgewood’s Jaren Rutherford (126), Oak Hills’ Dylan Buis (132), Princeton’s Anthony Alexander (132) and Loveland’s Jordan Paul (170).
Paul won a district title with a pin in the final at 170 and is 39-4 heading into state.
In one of the evening’s more exciting matches, Sycamore’s Gary Traub improved to 43-0 with an 8-4 decision win over Elder’s Brock in the 195 final. Brock and Traub were tied 4-4 late in the third period when Traub pulled away.
“I kind of knew I had a chance (up here),” Traub said. “But, that finals match was pretty tough, I wish I’d have done a little better in that match.”
Related: Traubs tumble on Sycamore mats
Traub said he “tries not to think about being undefeated,” when the junior makes his first trip to state next week. Traub said his dad, who placed fourth at state back in the day, gave his some advice to not be nervous and be himself.
St. Xavier senior Cole Jones improved to 37-0 this season with a 3-2 decision in the 220 final over Mason’s Sheldon Sims. Jones placed fourth at state last season.
“It feels great, it’s my first year being a district champ so it feels good going into state,” said Jones.
After the final match, wrestlers, coaches and parents found themselves all talking about the same thing – the month of champions. It’s a reference to this month and the trek to find the season’s final podium.
“I call this the month of champions, you come out to wrestle the best of the best. You train for this and I feel like I’m ready,” Jones said. “I love this time of year, it’s my favorite time of year.”
The Elder coach agreed: “As a competitor this is what you train for. Everything we do is to prepare for the month of champions,” Panther coach Jason Roush said.