The district wrestling championships get started this week, with lots of local talent hitting the mats with hopes of securing state berths.
In Division II at Wilmington, Graham will feature all 14 of its wrestlers in competition this week.
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) all qualified by finishing third or better in the sectional. All but Sanchez and Hays won titles last weekend.
Joining all the Falcons will be Urbana’s Jaylin Cameron (120), Gavyn Grim (126), Ezra Lee (132), Mitchell Moyer (138), Braeden Lehman (145), Jake Angles (170) and Jack Harris (195). Cameron and Harris won sectional titles last week.
“We expect Jack and Jaylin to go back to Columbus this year,” UHS Coach Ryan Pine said. “I’m excited for our other five qualifiers to get a feel for that level of wrestling.”
The district field will be deep and talented, and Pine knows it.
“Moyer returns again this year and has the talent to place at district, but has to go out and prove what he’s capable of,” Pine said. “I think we have a couple other guys who have flown under the radar this year, but will have to pull off some upsets to be in the hunt.”
In Division III at Troy, Mechanicsburg will have several athletes competing.
Tyler Wetzel (113), Alex Rhine (120), Nick Miller (132), Tanner Smith (138), Wade Smiddy (145), Corey Bogan (152), Kaleb Romero (160), Dustin Knapp (170) and Dylan Hartley (220) will all be in action.
“I really like our draws,” MHS Coach Cameron Doggett said. “We will have some tough matches to get through, but I feel we are capable of qualifying a lot of guys.”
Like the Division II district, the Division III tournament is loaded with talent.
“The Troy district is extremely tough, so whoever places has great odds of making a run at being on the podium at state,” Doggett said. “We have to be ready to wrestle when we step on the mat. Practice has been tailored individually to work on key areas for our tough matches – short and intense practices all week. I’m trying to give guys extra time to rest.”
Joining the Indians will be Triad’s Jacob Thompson (170) and Zack Zizzo (138).
“We’ve got high expecations,” THS Coach Tyler Graff said. “Each of the guys has their own goals. We just focus on preparation. They’ll be ready.”
Thompson, in particular, has a great shot at making the state meet – he’s undefeated on the season.
“He’s showing the guys the way. He’s awesome to have,” Graff said.
And Zizzo, the younger of the two?
“He’s constantly building. He’s very hungry. He works hard every day. As for work ethic, very few wrestlers can match that,” Graff said.
Graff added that if each man wrestles to his ability, both Cardinals could wind up in Columbus next week.
Reach Justin Miller at 652-1331 (ext. 1776) or on Twitter @UDC_Miller.