WILMINGTON — A young Wilmington wrestling squad made its season-debut Wednesday night against an old league foe.
In a back-and-forth dual with former South Central Ohio League rival Washington, the Blue Lions surged ahead at the end for a 38-30 victory.
Wilmington head coach Kelly Tolliver said Wednesday’s match is part of the learning process for the young Hurricane squad.
“I think we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Tolliver said. “We’ve got a lot of first-year wrestlers that haven’t had enough mat time yet. In another couple of months, I think we’ll be where we need to be.”
“I was happy with the effort from our young team,” Washington head coach Louis Reid said. “This was our first dual of the year and we came out with a victory so it was great for the team.
“We saw some improvements from our wrestlers from the tournament at Franklin and we saw some of our newer wrestlers step into the line up and help the team,” Reid said. “This match is always a close dual. Last year it came down to the last few matches and it did once again this year. We needed to win the final three matches to win the dual. This match will definitely help prepare our team for our upcoming conference schedule. We will get back in the room and work hard. We have a big match against Jackson our first conference dual coming up next week.”
After giving up six points thanks to a forfeit at 106, Wilmington eventually took the lead 18-17 thanks to back-to-back pins by Dominic Davidson and Sam Eastes at 138 and 145, respectively.
Washington, which opened the season last weekend in Franklin, regained the lead thanks to wins by Will Baughn and Kalub Wilkerson. Baughn’s was in the closest bout of the night, as he edged Wilmington’s Trent Holiday 9-8 at 152 pounds.
Wilmington retook the lead 30-26 thanks to two straight pins by Kile Holland and Canon Ford, but the Blue Lions won the final three bouts to take the dual.
“It’s always great with Court House,” Tolliver said. “That’s why we picked them for the first dual of the year. We’re always close with those guys. They have a good coaching staff. We all get along really well together.”
The first two hours of the night were an opportunity for Washington Court House and Wilmington youth and middle school wrestlers to take the mat and show off their skills.
Many youth competitions involve multi-mat setups which rarely allow athletes to have the spotlight to themselves. With just one mat setup, all wrestlers had center stage.
“This is the third year we’ve done it together,” Tolliver said. “We’re trying, on purpose, to give those kids the spotlight. In a regular kids tournament, there are eight or nine of them wrestling at once. Here they have the mat all to themselves with the crowd watching them.
“It’s a big deal to them. I think it helps grow the sport a little bit.”
The Blue Lions will host Jackson and Circleville Thursday. Mat time is 6 p.m.
Record-Herald sports editor Chris Hoppes contributed to this report.