DEFIANCE — Perhaps the toughest two days of the Miami Trace Panther wrestling season is experienced in Defiance, Ohio at the annual Fricker’s Duals.
It is a 326 mile round trip, over-night stay with the team competing in 10 dual meets over the course of the two day tournament. The event is so large they hold the competition at the Defiance College Smart Athletic Center.
Miami Trace head coach Ben Fondale sees the benefits of competing in distant locales.
“This is a tough early season tournament,” Fondale said. “It helps us figure out what we need to work on individually and as a team. We get to see where we are at.”
The tournament featured some of the top teams from northwest Ohio and Michigan. Wauseon, Toledo Central Catholic and Perrysburg are all perennial northwest Ohio powers that competed in the tournament.
Returning Michigan scholastic champion, Hudson, was present as well. There are no individual champions or placement kept throughout the tournament.
Teams are placed in pools and do not necessarily all face one another.
The Panthers went 6-4 over the course of the tournament.
An opening round win over Defiance Tinora by a 43-34 was earned.
Miami Trace faced the formidable Wauseon team who came away with a 54-24 win over
Gahanna Lincoln then defeated Miami Trace in a close match by a 36-30 score. A victory over River Valley by a 35-24 count put the Panthers back on a winning track. However, Ashland derailed them with a convincing 41-19 pummeling.
The Panthers then trounced Bryan High School with a 75-6 pounding. Another close loss against Toledo St. John’s, 37-33, would be their last defeat in the tournament.
Three consecutive wins against Elmwood; 44-27, Ayersville; 52-21, and Milan Edison; 42-36, helped finish the grueling event on a high note.
Several Panther wrestlers achieved an excellent showing at the Fricker’s Duals.
Coby Hughes was 9-1 at 126 pounds; Austin Lovett went 8-2 at 152; Drake Litteral achieved a 7-3 record at 145 pounds; Skylar Morris went 7-3 at 285 pounds; B.J. Anders was 6-4 at 170 pounds as was Matthew Hottinger at 182.
Gavin Moore won a pivotal match at 132 pounds against Edison to seal the victory.
Coach Ben Fondale found what his team needed work on after watching them compete against 10 teams head-to-head.
“We need to work on getting out from the bottom. These kids were tough on top.”