The Miami Trace Panthers captured the 2016 Sectional wrestling team title at the Washington High School Division II Sectional tournament Saturday.
The Panthers bested 10 other schools for the top spot on the scoreboard at the end of the competition.
In the process, seven Miami Trace wrestlers qualified to the upcoming District tournament that will be held Friday and Saturday at Wilmington High School.
A top four finish there will advance the wrestlers to the coveted State tournament to be held at The Ohio State University beginning Thursday, March 3 at 4:10 p.m. for Division II.
Miami Trace had one Sectional weight class champion, sophomore Coby Hughes at 126 pounds.
Hughes began his run to the Sectional title by pinning freshman Nathan Gibbs of Clinton-Massie in 1:40.
In the semifinals, Hughes faced sophomore Keegan Rawlins of McClain. Hughes scored a major decision, 16-4 victory over Rawlins.
Hughes had another major decision victory, 12-3 over junior Taylor Steele of Waynesville in the finals.
Hughes is now 41-4 on the season.
Hughes’ first match in the District tournament will be against freshman Logan Raney of Franklin, who enters the tournament as a fourth-place finisher from the Tippecanoe Sectional with a record of 7-19.
“He wrestled really well,” Miami Trace head coach Ben Fondale said. “He’s starting to beat the higher-level kids, which, he had a little trouble with last year. He’s starting to turn the corner. Steele is a tough kid and Coby just performed really well in that match.”
Panther sophomore Gavin Moore advanced to the finals at 132 pounds at the Sectional.
He was defeated in the finals by the No. 1 seed at the Sectional, senior Jacob Boldman of Wilmington by major decision, 16-8.
In his first match at the Sectional, Moore pinned junior Brandon Bohman of Waynesville in 4:50.
Moore then won a 7-4 decision over sophomore Zane Nelson of Washington to advance to the finals.
Moore’s first opponent at the Wilmington District will be senior Brandon Weaver of Eaton, who placed third at Tippecanoe. Weaver enters the tournament with a record of 33-13.
Moore is 32-12 currently on the season.
“Gavin wrestled really well,” Fondale said. “He’s still recovering from being sick, but, he did have one of his better tournaments. He beat Zane Nelson. Zane beat him last week. It was nice for Gavin to come back after losing to that same kid.
“He ended up losing to Boldman, who is a pretty tough kid,” Fondale said.
Panther junior Drake Litteral reached the Sectional finals match, where he was pinned at the 5:30 mark by sophomore Isaac Allen of Wilmington.
Litteral began his run to the Sectional finals with a pin over senior Eric Jones of Waynesville 50 seconds into that match.
In the semifinals, Litteral pinned sophomore Christian Poynter of Clinton-Massie at 3:41.
Litteral (now 35-11 on the season) will face junior Jordan Cahall of Batavia (28-6), who placed third at the Batavia Sectional, in his first match of the District.
“Drake ended up losing to a kid he beat earlier in the year,” Fondale said. “He stopped wrestling for a few seconds and it cost him. It was a pretty good match, but he stopped wrestling for a few seconds.”
Senior Austin Lovett (152) placed second at the Sectional to advance to the District meet.
In his first Sectional match, Lovett pinned sophomore Mason Stanley of Hillsboro in :43.
Lovett pinned senior Trevor Hemming of Circleville in the semifinals before facing off against the No. 1 seed at the Sectional, senior Davey Tunon of Clinton-Massie.
Tunon scored a 15-2 major decision over Lovett in the finals. Tunon is now 37-1 on the season.
Lovett (now 35-7 on the year), will face freshman Mason Straker of Benjamin Logan (with a record of 13-16) in the first round of the District meet.
“Austin wrestled tough and physical,” Fondale said. “That’s just how Austin wrestles. He’s in every match. He doesn’t let kids push him around. He pushes them around, so, he can get in the other kid’s heads.
“Tunon’s real tough,” Fondale said. “Tunon’s a good kid.”
Miami Trace senior Matthew Hottinger (182) placed fourth at the Sectional.
Hottinger began the tournament with a 9-2 win over freshman Bowen McConahay of Logan Elm.
In the semifinals, Hottinger lost to senior Mason McCane of Washington by major decision, 13-5.
In the match for third and fourth place, Hottinger lost a close bout, 3-1 to senior Christian Redman of Circleville.
Hottinger is now 34-14 on the season.
“He has a pretty tough weight class,” Fondale said. “There was (Tyler) Wiederholt (of Bellbrook) and (Mason) McCane (of Washington). They are both ranked.
“He had a pretty good tournament,” Fondale said. “We’re going to have to beat someone we’re not supposed to (at the District). We have to perform. We’re going to face a Sectional champ from some other Sectional.”
At the District, Hottinger’s first-round opponent will be sophomore Gage Braun (29-11) of Graham Local.
At 195 pounds, junior Jared Fenner reached the finals at the Sectional, falling in a tough match to senior Cam Redman of Circleville, 6-5.
Fenner wrestled junior Nick Vagnier of Logan Elm in the semifinals, taking a 6-3 decision.
Fenner (now 36-8) will meet junior Tony Petrosino (14-15) of Alter in the first round of the District tournament.
“Fenner beat that kid (Redman) at the McDonald’s tournament,” Fondale said. “That was a heartbreaker of a match. Those guys both have different styles of wrestling. Whoever finishes their take-downs is going to win that match, if they have to wrestle again.”
At heavyweight, Miami Trace sophomore Colin Wolffe reached the finals at the Sectional, taking on Washington Blue Lion junior Trevor Hicks.
Hicks won that finals match by pin at the 2:46 mark.
Wolffe began the Sectional with a pin of sophomore Rylan Stevens of Logan Elm at the 45-second mark.
Wolffe then pinned freshman Lane Cluff of Hillsboro at 2:25 to advance to the finals.
Wolffe (now 19-10 on the season) will take on sophomore Trent Wilson of Valley View (19-14) in the first round of the District meet.
“Hicks is just a real strong kid,” Fondale said. “He has good hips for a heavyweight. We’ve struggled with him all year. As a sophomore, it’s hard to compete with someone that strong. We just have to keep after it in the weight room and get stronger.”
At 113 pounds for Miami Trace, sophomore Wes Gandee pinned freshman Aaron LaPlante of Unioto at 1:07.
Gandee was then pinned by sophomore Nate Keaton of Circleville at 2:29. Gandee lost a 10-7 decision to Washington sophomore Chris Martin to end his season with a record of 14-22.
Sophomore Jacob Tinkler went 1-2 at the Sectional for the Panthers, ending his season with a record of 13-27.
Tinkler lost his opening match to eventual Sectional champ, senior Jake Badgley of McClain, who is now 40-6 on the season.
Badgely pinned Tinkler at the 1:28 mark of that match.
Tinkler pinned junior Caleb Hartley of Logan Elm in 2:59.
Tinkler lost by tech fall (18-2) to sophomore Ross Lennon of Clinton-Massie.
Jack Anders (170) of Miami Trace, a sophomore, lost his first match of the Sectional to junior Ben Davenport of Unioto, a 9-0 major decision.
Anders stayed alive by pinning freshman Josh Marshall of Waynesville at the 1:32 mark.
In the consolation semifinals, Anders was pinned by senior Curran Butler of Hillsboro in 1:47. Anders ends the season with a record of 21-21.
Sophomore Dalton Bartley competed at 220 pounds for the Panthers.
He lost a tough 5-4 decision to junior Gage Smith of Wilmington in the opening match.
Bartley defeated senior Jackson Grigsby of Clinton-Massie, 5-2, before falling to junior Nick Robinette of Unioto, 15-8.
Bartley went 22-21 on the season.
“We talked all year that this was the most important tournament, besides the District and State,” Fondale said. “It’s good that our kids can perform at the end of the year when it matters most.”
1. Miami Trace 166.0
2. Circleville 156.5
3. Washington 149.0
4. Clinton-Massie 142.5
5. Wilmington 128.0
6. Logan Elm 115.0
7. McClain 82.0
8. Hillsboro 76.0
9. Unioto 74.0
10. Bellbrook 73.5
11. Waynesville 52.0
Reach Chris Hoppes at 740-335-3611, ext. 1104, or on Twitter @choppes1