COLUMBUS – Graham won a fifth consecutive Division II state team duals title at St. John Arena on Sunday, beating out Wauseon, 48-9, in the finals.
“I think a lot of it’s just our leadership. This year, I’ve got Kavan Sarver,” Graham Coach Jeff Jordan said. “The guy he beat tonight won state last year. We’ve come down five years in a row, we’ve won it all five years. I don’t think Sarver and some of these upperclassmen want to be the first ones to lose down here.”
For the Falcons, it was business as usual in Division II. Top-seeded and expected to bring home a fifth straight championship, Graham didn’t disappoint.
In the finals, Graham shut out Wauseon until the 145-pound class. The Falcons got extra points from Dawson Show (113 points), Jordan Crace (120), J.D. Stickley (138), Ryan Thomas (160), Gage Braun (182) and Johnny Shafer (220), while Tanner Jordan (106), Jeffrey Thomas (126), Mitch Moore (132), Hunter Hyden (170), Sarver (195) and Khrizdon VanHoose (285) also won.
The boys in the black and silver were dominant in the earlier rounds, too, beating Miami Trace, 66-12, and Mentor Lake Catholic, 57-13, to advance to the finals.
In the quarterfinals against Miami Trace, the Falcons got three pins and a forfeit from Jordan, Show, Crace and Jeffrey Thomas to open up a 24-0 lead and essentially seal the match early.
At 132 pounds, Moore returned to action for the first time in quite a while, coming back from knee and thumb injuries. While not 100 percent healthy, Moore was still too much for Coby Hughes to handle, taking a 16-1 technical fall victory.
Filling in for Rocky Jordan at 152 pounds, D’artangan Spitler got pinned in three minutes by Miami Trace’s Derek Moore to break up the shutout.
In the semifinals, Graham handled Lake Catholic the same way, with Crace, Jeffrey Thomas, Moore, Ryan Thomas, Sarver, Shafer and VanHoose winning by pin.
“We got on a big roll the first two rounds. We’ve got 95 percent of our lineup in. Next week we’ll have 100 percent,” Jordan said, noting that his son, Rocky, is expected to be back in action next week.
In Division III, things didn’t go quite as smoothly for Mechanicsburg.
The top-seeded Indians took a 49-25 victory over Bethel-Tate in the quarterfinals, but the outcome was uncertain for much longer than the squad in purple and white would have preferred.
“We had a slow start. Guys gotta wake up,” M’burg Coach Cameron Doggett said. “Honestly, more than nervous, I was starting to get ticked off. I didn’t think we were wrestling up to where we should be.”
It was obvious Mechanicsburg never got comfortable, with Tyler Wetzel pinning Mike Whittington at 126 pounds to tie the match at 10-10. Alex Rhine put M’burg ahead with a pin at 132, but Frank Magyar went down at 138 to knot the score up again at 16-16.
Then, Mechanicsburg showed its talent. The Indians are strong in the middle weights, and that talent reared its head.
Tanner Smith (145) and Colt Yinger (152) got pins, then Corey Bogan (160) held on for a 6-1 decision.
Bethel-Tate declined to send out a competitor to face one of the nation’s best wrestlers in Kaleb Romero at 170 pounds, to boos from the M’burg faithful. That forfeit put Mechanicsburg in excellent position at 37-16.
In the semifinals, the Indians clashed with Milan Edison for a stake in the championship. Mechanicsburg couldn’t pull another comeback out of its singlet and Edison finished on top in a thrilling 32-31 match.
Wetzel was able to win a major decision at 126 pounds to get M’burg on the board and Rhine (132) got a pin to make it a close match.
But Edison’s Max Wolfe came back with a pin of Magyar at 138 and Mechanicsburg was in trouble headed to its strong core.
“It’s tough to dig out of a hole once you get one started,” Doggett said. “But hats off to my guys. They worked their butts off to try to close that gap back up.”
Smith earned a 6-0 decision and Yinger netted four points from a major decision. Bogan lost a late tie and dropped a 5-2 decision at 160 pounds, putting Edison ahead 23-17 and putting Mechanicsburg on the ropes.
Romero was again granted a forfeit, this time at 182 pounds. The decision again drew jeers from the crowd, which wanted to see him wrestle as much as he wanted to compete.
“The sport of wrestling is about stepping on the mat and competing. It’s kind of frustrating that he doesn’t get to wrestle. It’s his senior year and he wants to wrestle,” Doggett said.
The forfeit gave the Indians a tenuous 26-23 lead, but Walton got pinned for a second time, this time by John Kasper in 2:19.
Hartman stepped to the mat with a chance to give the Indians life, but hurt his knee down 10-4 and lost.
“We’re right there. It’s just not our time. I’m a firm believer that there’s always a reason for everything that happens. I don’t know what that reason is yet, but I’m sure I’ll find out real soon,” said Doggett.