COLUMBUS — Miami Trace High School sent four student-athletes to the 2022 State wrestling tournament held at the Schottenstein Center on the campus of The Ohio State University.
It was the first time the tournament was held at that site since 2019. The Schottenstein Center has been the location for the ultimate in high school wrestling in Ohio since 1999.
Three Panthers (all seniors) placed at the tournament.
Kylan Knapp placed third at 175 pounds, Weston Melvin placed fifth at 144 pounds and Bryce Bennett finished fifth at 215 pounds.
That trio of Panthers stood on the State podium and received their placement medals in between rounds of the championship matches Sunday evening.
Knapp began the tournament on Friday with a 6-0 win over senior Zach Panetta of Blanchester.
On Saturday, Knapp’s first match saw him pinned by senior Brady Welch of Ashland in 5:08.
Saturday evening, in the consolation bracket, Knapp won a 9-0 major decision over senior Joshua Stanley of Clyde.
Knapp then received a forfeit from Ryan Iams of Ross.
On Sunday, Knapp beat senior Brandon Kiser of Dover in the consolation semifinals by pin in 2:48.
Knapp finished his State tournament with a 5-3 win over senior Caden Kenworthy of Cambridge to place third.
Melvin started the tournament with a win on Friday, a pin in 5:45 of senior Ben Hartzell of Greenville.
On Saturday, Melvin beat senior Kyle Biller of Ashtabula Edgewood, 8-5 to advance to the championship semifinals.
On Saturday evening, Melvin lost 4-1 to freshman Mitchell Younger of Watterson. Younger went on to win the Division II State championship with a 12-2 major decision over senior Nolan Gessler of Graham.
In the consolation semifinals Sunday, Melvin lost to junior Maddox Simcoe of Tiffin Columbian.
In the match for fifth place, Melvin beat junior C.J. Spencer of Indian Creek, 4-3.
Bennett won his first match Friday, 6-0 over junior Bryson Getz of Akron St. Vincent-St. Mary.
On Saturday, Bennett lost to senior Eli Emmons of Badin, 5-3.
In the consolation bracket, he went 3-1 to place fifth.
He first beat junior Elisha Baldridge of West Holmes, 2-1.
Bennett defeated senior Steven Marra of West Branch, 3-2.
Bennett lost to junior Kyle Snider of Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy in a 15-4 major decision.
Undaunted, Bennett won his match for fifth place, beating junior Kaiden Haines of Minerva, 6-4.
“I had a tough match to get to third and fourth place,” Weston Melvin said. “It could of gone either way, but I ended up losing. So, I went for fifth and sixth and I wrestled a kid that I had last weekend in the District finals (Spencer) and I pulled out another win.
“I was pretty excited about it,” Melvin said. “I was happy that my last match was a win.”
Melvin went 3-2 at State to finish the season with a record of 49-7.
“I’d like to thank my parents and my coaches,” Melvin said. “My brother and sister, all my friends and family. My teammates and God for everything. I wouldn’t be here without any of them. They’ve pushed me through everything and helped me so much.”
“I lost my first match (Sunday) and went into the match for fifth and sixth place and ended up placing fifth,” Bryce Bennett said. “The goal is always first, but, part of goal-setting is setting realistic goals; mine was top six in the State.
“Coming into the tournament, I think I was ranked ninth,” Bennett said. “I was not even projected to place at all in this tournament. Coming in and placing fifth is a pretty big accomplishment.
“I’d definitely like to thank my parents,” Bennett said. “My grandparents for being so supportive of me; really, my entire family. I’d like to thank all of the coaches, especially (Hayden) Bottorff for working with me so much this past year; working on my shots and other different types of set-ups.
“Any past coach that I’ve had that really helped shape me into who I am today,” Bennett said.
“Really I just wanted to get on the podium,” Kylan Knapp said when asked about his expectations entering the State tournament. “Take it step-by-step, each match. I definitely didn’t see myself getting top three, but, I went for it. I was predicted to finish eighth and I got third. I wrestled my butt off.
“This might be it for me (wrestling),” Knapp said. “I’m pretty sure I’m going to a welding school. I’ll jump back in the room a couple of times, wrestle the underclassmen. That is the biggest help, the alumni — like James Munro, Mcale Callahan, Graham Carson. Those guys showing you new stuff and beating the heck out of you really helps. It’s been a wild ride.
“I’d like to thank my mom and Tylan Baker, all the coaches,” Knapp said. “In the room we kind of had a weird spot for about two weeks where I didn’t have anybody to wrestle. Melvin’s lighter than me and Bennett’s a lot heavier. Ben Fondale would jump in and wrestle me, and coach (Jacob) Garringer. They helped out a lot.”
“Lyric Dickerson (a freshman who qualified to State at 106 pounds and went 0-2) had a solid year,” Miami Trace head coach Ben Fondale said. “He got to experience the State tournament for the first time, get those butterflies out of the way a little bit.
“He’s all excited and motivated and inspired to come back in the years to come and place here next year,” Fondale said.
“Weston Melvin took a tough loss in the semifinals,” Fondale said. “It’s hard to jump back after a heart-breaking loss like that. He was still able to finish his senior year and his career with a win.
“All three of these seniors have been dreaming since they were younger of being on the podium at the State tournament,” Fondale said. “I’m just glad they were able to achieve that.
“In the consolation semifinals Bryce Bennett ran into just a real hammer in the defending State champion (Kyle Snider),” Fondale said. “He ended up losing to him, but Bryce was also able to win his final match as a Miami Trace wrestler. He was happy to have that.”
Bennett went 4-2 at the State tournament finishing his senior season with a record of 52-7.
“Kylan Knapp lost fairly early in the tournament, but he battled all the way back in the consolation bracket to place third,” Fondale said. “This was his first time at the State tournament and to place that high; he said he was nervous but he must not have been nervous enough, because he went out and performed at the highest level he’s ever wrestled.”
Knapp went 5-1 at the State tournament to finish his senior season with a record of 43-5.
“I’d like to thank my coaches for showing up to practice and putting the work in,” Fondale said. “Helping me plan strategies and just being there for the kids.
“I’d like to thank the parents for the late-night practices, early morning tournaments and making the sacrifices,” Fondale said. “They supported all the kids on the team, not just their own.
“I’d like to thank my soon-to-be wife for very much supporting me throughout the season,” Fondale said.
“I’d like to thank my wrestlers for making the sacrifices, putting in so much time and effort,” Fondale said. “They are fun to hang out with. They were willing to listen and they supported each other; they were willing to put in the blood, the sweat and the tears. This season is going to be tough to beat. The underclassmen have a lot of work to do and we plan on putting in the work in the off-season.”