WILMINGTON — Washington High School freshman Branton Dawes made school history Saturday, becoming just the sixth District wrestling champion in the program’s history.
Dawes (113 pounds) went 4-0 at the District, culminating his tournament run with an 8-4 win in the finals over sophomore Trace Braun of Graham.
As they have so often done, Graham won the District championship with 270 team points.
Chaminade-Julienne was a distant second with 104 points.
Graham had five District champions, five runners-up and is sending a total of 11 wrestlers to State (out of a possible 14).
“He’s been working hard all season,” Washington head coach Louis Reid said. “One of his goals has been to get to the State tournament. Not only is his goal to get there, he has a goal of placing. He’s worked hard since he was a little kid.
“It just goes to show here in this finals match,” Reid said. “Collin George drilled with him a lot. His uncle, Tyler Beedy, who’s a coach with us. They put in a lot of work over the summer and it’s paying off right now.
“I’m very proud of Branton,” Reid said. “He’s a really smart wrestler. He becomes only the sixth District champion wrestler at Washington Court House. He’s the second freshman ever to win a District championship.
“Roger Wilson was a District champion as a freshman,” Reid said. “The other District champions were Shane Paul, Riley Shaw, Trevor Hicks, Cameron Shaw.” Riley Shaw was a two-time District champion for the Blue Lions.
“He really just wrestled a perfect match,” Washington coach Tyler Beedy said. “Every position he was in he was able to score from. All the preparation and everything paid off for him.”
It was the second time that Dawes had faced Braun in his career.
“I wrestled him in the fifth grade,” Dawes said. “He beat me by, I think, two points then.”
Dawes had inspiration from his workout partner, senior Collin George, who was on hand, but had not qualified to compete at the District.
“I just wanted to go out there and win it because Collin couldn’t be here to wrestle with me, so, I did it for him,” Dawes said. “He’s basically my brother.
“At the beginning of the year, I wasn’t planning on winning anything,” Dawes said. “I just wanted to be able to make it to State as a freshman. I made it there. Now I just want to go get it done. If I place at State as a freshman, that’s a big enough accomplishment for me.”
As a team, the Blue Lions placed 19th with 33 points out of 48 schools represented at the Wilmington District.
Also competing for Washington: Bryce Warner went 0-2 at 106, Kalub Wilkerson went 1-2 at 152, Dylan Moore went 1-2 at 170, Collier Brown went 1-2 at 195 and Mason Mustain went 2-2 at 220.
“I thought he did a great job,” Reid said of Warner. “First of all, the fact he made it to the District meet as a freshman and he’s never wrestled before. I was really happy with his effort.
“Junior Kalub Wilkerson won one match and was in both of his other two,” Reid said. “He wrestled really well. He was injured for most of the season. He didn’t really get to wrestle until at the league meet. He was second at the league and he was second at the Sectional. He put himself in contention. He made it to day two. This was his first time at Districts, so, that was impressive.
“Sophomore Dylan Moore has improved so much during the season,” Reid said. “He was fourth at the Sectional. He came here and won a match at the District. His attitude changed for the better throughout the year. I was happy with the effort he gave here.
“Junior Collier Brown was one of our team captains,” Reid said. “He led by example and worked really hard. His offense really opened up here at the District meet. The two wrestlers he lost to are both State qualifiers.
“Freshman Mason Mustain went 2-2 here,” Reid said. “220 was probably one of the toughest weight classes here. He lost to two kids who are both going on to the State meet. We had high hopes. We thought he could make it out, but he didn’t. He wrestled really well.
“The great thing is, every kid that we had here is an underclassman,” Reid said. “Hopefully we get them back to this point and they improve upon this point. It’s tough making it to the District meet. A lot of kids get to this point and never make it to State. The fact that they made it here and even had a chance to make it to State is an accomplishment in itself.
“Ohio is a tough state for wrestling,” Reid said. “I was really happy with my wrestler’s efforts. Hopefully Branton can get on the State podium (this) week.”
Division II wrestling begins Thursday at 4:10 p.m. at the Schottenstein Center on the campus of The Ohio State University.
Dawes (39-2) will face freshman Mark Emmerling (38-12) of Lisbon Beaver in a first-round match.
In addition to Dawes and James Munro (160) and Mcale Callahan (138) of Miami Trace, there are three other wrestlers from the Frontier Athletic Conference who have advanced to State.
Sophomore Kade Rawlins (220) of McClain (45-3) will face senior Tyler Stein (41-2) of Canfield; senior Lane Cluff (hwt.) of Hillsboro (48-3) will wrestle junior Daniel Wirth (36-8) of Lisbon Beaver and junior Brice Parks (170) of Jackson (48-3) will meet sophomore Collin Corapi (32-10) of Bellevue.
Division II wrestling starts at 4:10 p.m. Thursday at the Schottenstein Center in Columbus.