The championship rounds of the OHSAA wrestling team duals tournament at St. John Arena in Columbus on Sunday will have a Champaign County flavor to them again this season, as both Graham and Mechanicsburg return to the field.
In Division II, Graham will be trying to win yet another title. The Falcons won each of the first three team competitions, and are heavily favored to take another championship back to St. Paris.
“We’re going to get some good matches,” Graham Coach Jeff Jordan said. “Each match gets tougher and tougher. We’ll see how the guys respond.”
Graham has not been challenged to this point, defeating its first four duals opponents by a combined 317-9, including shutouts over Celina and Bellefontaine.
“We’re wrestling great as a team. Each win we have in the lighter weights, the heavier weights respond,” Jordan said. “I know the guys want to go out in style.”
The Falcons have featured a lineup that includes Jordan Crace (106 pounds), Jeffrey Thomas (113), Justin Stickley (120), Mitch Moore (126), Ryan Thomas (132), Brent Moore (138), Rocky Jordan (145), Joey Sanchez (152), Garrett Jordan (160), Alex Marinelli (170), Gage Braun (182), Kavan Sarver (195), Johnny Shafer (220) and Brandon Hays (285).
“We’ve got a lot of tough kids that work hard,” Jordan said. “We had a wake-up call and the boys started training harder. I’m looking forward to Sunday.”
In Division III, Mechanicsburg returns to the stage after a narrow loss to Dayton Christian in the semifinals a year ago. The Indians are the second seed behind three-time champion Delta.
“After last year, our boys left hungry. We wanted to be in the finals last year,” said M’burg Coach Cameron Doggett. “I feel confident that we’re in a good position to get into the finals. I think it added in a motivation factor into the returning wrestlers.”
Doggett said the attitude of the team has changed – now they know they’re capable of excelling on the biggest stage.
“I think last year pushed them to do the best that they can,” Doggett said. “The dynamic we have in the room is just amazing to watch. Everybody pushes everybody. I always preach that ‘family’ mentality and it’s amazing to see it come together.”
The Indians have featured a lineup that includes David Maxwell (106), Tyler Wetzel (113), Alex Rhine (120), Sam Rozmus (126), Nick Miller (132), Tanner Smith (138), Wade Smiddy (145), Corey Bogan (152), Kaleb Romero (160), Dustin Knapp (170), Alex Walton (182), Michael Knapp (195), Dylan Hartley (220) and Dylan Hartman (285).
Doggett has a few moving pieces that can shift that lineup, but the core will remain pretty much the same.
“This has just been a really weird year. I still don’t think we’ve hit our peak yet. We’re really, really close,” Doggett said. “I don’t think anybody has seen us at full force. The one thing I can say about our wrestlers is they’ll scrap.”