COLUMBUS – Twenty-four squads from around Ohio will compete for three state titles in the team wrestling duals on Sunday, with Champaign County having two of the top three seeds.
In Division II, Graham will attempt to win the team championship for a fifth straight year. The Falcons have claimed the title in each of the tournament’s first four years of existence, with nothing likely to change this season.
“Being the top seed is not something that really phases us. We know that when we go out to wrestle we will get the best out of the opposing team,” Graham Coach Jeff Jordan said.
The Falcons have plenty of pedigree, with champions Mitch Moore (132 pounds) and Rocky Jordan (152) back, although Moore has been injured and may continue to be unavailable. Jordan has been out recovering from surgery.
Jordan Crace (120), Jeffrey Thomas (126), Joey Sanchez (145), Ryan Thomas (160), Gage Braun (182), Kavan Sarver (195) and Johnny Shafer (220) all placed last season for the Falcons.
“With us having ranked guys throughout our whole lineup, it makes us a very tough dual meet team. My wrestlers really enjoy traveling to St. John Arena and wrestling for a team state title,” Jordan said. “My team really enjoys the state duals series. It is the last chance for our team to compete as a team. This series gives all of my wrestlers the chance to play a role in us winning a state title.”
In Division III, Mechanicsburg is back and the top seed after finishing as runner-up a season ago.
The Indians have plenty of experienced grapplers, with Kaleb Romero (170) the driving force behind the meteoric rise. Tyler Wetzel (126), Tanner Smith (145), Corey Bogan (152) each placed at the individual state tournament last season, as did transfer Colt Yinger (152). Alex Rhine (132) and Dylan Hartley (285) were also participants.
“It’s a great feeling to be seeded one, however it adds more pressure to perform. I think the guys are ready to leave it on the mat. Being seeded number one, puts a target on your back – so this week we are working on staying relaxed and focused on our goals,” Mechanicsburg Coach Cameron Doggett said. “We have been close to reaching the ultimate goal and a bitter taste has been left in our mouths. Family has been our motto since I became the head coach. I think that is what has, in part, driven this team. Each wrestler pushes themselves to higher thresholds because they know everyone is counting on them.”
The Indians will weigh a pair of 126-pounders and a pair of 170-pounders, allowing them to juggle the lineup a bit based on matchup.
“This gives us more options for our lineup to shift to adjust to teams we may face. Along with our other wrestlers weighing in, I feel we can insert the best possible lineup for each dual we are in,” Doggett said. “I asked what ‘Family’ meant to them and the resounding theme was that they all are there for each other and work harder because they know their wrestling family needs them. It is an amazing thing to witness. I feel that is our difference. I am so proud of every individual member on the squad.”
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.