For the St. Xavier wrestling team, the goal is simple — gradual improvement.
The No. 4-ranked Tigers kept the pendulum moving with a comfortable win Saturday in the Jefferson County Tournament at Doss High School.
St. Xavier placed nine wrestlers in the weight-class finals and won four of those. The Tigers finished with 320 points, third-ranked Fern Creek was second with 252.2, Manual was third with 177, and No. 2 Trinity collected 140 points. The Shamrocks rested most of their top wrestlers.
St. X coach James Kraeszig said he saw the improvement continue from the Tigers, who won a state title in 2013.
“We’re going to use this as a building block and keep getting better,” Kraeszig said. “The scary thing about this team is every week we’re getting a little bit better, just a little bit. Our goal is to win a state title.”
Kraeszig pointed to the wrestlers who don’t get as much recognition.
“The guys in the wrestle-backs (consolation bracket) wrestling so well,” Kraeszig said. “You win the tournaments in the wrestle-backs. I was happy with the way we attacked. We’ll get back into the practice room, work on some things and get better. That’s all our goal is.”
One of the Tigers’ top wrestlers — No. 1 ranked Dominic Lampe (27-0) — handed Southern’s Caleb Barret (21-1) his first loss with a pin at 2:56.
Lampe, who the state title a year ago at 160, said he’s focused on another title. Earlier in the year, he won at the prestigious Evansville Mater Dei Holiday Classic.
Lampe said he hopes to join his brothers — John and Justin — at Tennessee-Chattanooga. John and Justin are two-time state champions.
The Tigers also won at 120 (Michael Beets), at 138 (Dallas Miles) and at 160 (Nathan Haddad).
Fern Creek made its mark in the early going by winning the first two classes — Mike Klein at 106 and Jorge Vega at 113. The Tigers also won at 132 (A.J. Bindner).
Klein surged ahead of St. X’s Konner Kraeszig, the coach’s son, with about a minute left. He held on to a 9-8 win as Kraeszig came so close to scoring in the waning seconds of the match.
“I so nervous,” Klein said. “I was thinking if I can just hold on for a few more seconds I’ll win.”
Even as the match ended, Klein said he wasn’t sure he had won. “The referee raised my hand and so much adrenaline went to my head and I was about to cry. It was great.”
“This is my first tournament win ever,” said Klein, ranked No. 2 in his weight class. “Now I have a gold medal to add to my 30 silver medals.”
Male, Moore and Trinity also featured multiple winners. The Bulldogs won with Leland Phelps (145) and Jeremy Fow (285). The Mustangs won at 126 (Bobby Poynter) and at 182 (Mikey Smith). Trinity took 195 (Lucas Miozza) and 220 (Tate Smith).
Poynter pinned Fern Creek’s Connor Cambron in just 57 seconds.
Miozza (30-2), who lost to Fern Creek’s Kohl Dodd 6-5 last weekend, turned the tables for a 7-6 decision.
“My mind wasn’t right last week,” Miozza. “I just didn’t prepare (mentally) for the match last week.”
Team Results: 1. St. Xavier 320, 2. Fern Creek 252.5, 3. Manual 177, 4. Trinity 140, 5. Moore 137.5, 6. Doss 129, 7. Male 119, 8. Eastern 92, 8. Iroquois 92, 10. Pleasure Ridge Park 78, 11. Atherton 6, 12. Central 75, 13. Southern 74.5, 14. Jeffersontown 61, 15. Fairdale 52, 16. Western 46, 17. DeSales 42, 18. Valley 36, 19. Seneca 20, 20. Shawnee 10, 21. Waggener 8.
106 pounds — final, Mike Klein (Fern Creek) def Konner Kaeszig (St. X) 9-8; third place, Blake Evans (PRP) def. Luke Polin (DeSales) pin, 4:37.
113 — final, Jorge Vega (Fern Creek) def. Austin Cook (St. X) 11-4; third place, Derek Ringlen (Doss) def. Chancellor Caldwell (Manual) 4-3.
120 — final, Michael Beets (St. X) def. Cedric Binford (Fern Creek) 4-1; third place, Dwayne Johnson (Eastern) def. Ansar Kurbanov (Iroquois) 5-2.
126 — final, Bobby Poynter (Moore) def. Connor Cambron (Fern Creek) pin, 0:57; third place, Brett Salings (Manual) def. Tristin Garcia (Male) 7-6.
132 — final, A.J. Bindner (Fern Creek) def. Jack Lucas (Male) 19-3; third place, Max Powell (Doss) def. Ben Green (Manual) 8-6.
138 — final, Dallas Miles (St. X) def. Jeremy Henehan (Fern Creek) 19-4; third place, George Pumphrey (PRP) def. Tim Poynter (Moore) 3-2.
145 — final, Leland Phelps (Male) def. Tristan Sanders (Fairdale) 8-4; third place, Andrew Salings (Manual) def. Jared Branch (Fern Creek) 10-6.
152 — final, Riley Hawes (Eastern) def. Calieb Ray (St. X) 8-4; third place, Samim Alokozai (Iroquois) def. Zach Harris (Manual) 17-4.
160 — final, Nathan Haddad (St. X) def. Jacob Bratcher (Manual) pin, 5:06; third place, Lee Johnson (Central) def. Ruben Rojas (Moore) 4-3.
170 — final, Dominic Lampe (St. X) def. Caleb Barret (Southern) pin, 2:56; third place, Thomas Ray (Doss) def. Yo Majesty Warfield (Fern Creek) 3-2.
182 — final, Mikey Smith (Moore) def. Adam Miller (Eastern ) pin, 1:01; third place, Gage Cumella (St. X) def. Aric Hamblin (Central) pin, 3:30.
195 — final, Lucas Miozza (Trinity) def. Kohl Dodd (Fern Creek) 7-6; third place, Elijah Allgeier (St. X) def. Daylen Eichenberger (Manual) 15-2.
220 — final, Tate Smith (Trinity) def. Joseph Green (St. X) 7-5; third place, Brandon Reed (Iroquois) def. Tommy Nauert (DeSales) 7-5.
285 — final, Jeremy Fow (Male) def. Daniel Sheridan (St. X) 4-2; third place, Nolan Bowman (Southern) def. Noah Ewing (Manual) 6-5.